Minor chemical accident at Grove Academy

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WHAT was described as a ‘minor’ chemical accident at Grove Academy on Friday morning led to eight pupils and a teacher being taken to Ninewells Hospital.

The incident took place within a science laboratory at the Broughty Ferry secondary school.

The exact circumstances surrounding what occurred are not known but it believed that the chemical bromine was involved.

Bromine is a chemical element with the symbol Br, an atomic number of 35, and an atomic mass of 79.904. It is in the halogen element group.

The element was isolated independently by two chemists, Carl Jacob Löwig and Antoine Jerome Balard, in 1825/26.

Elemental bromine is a fuming red-brown liquid at room temperature, corrosive and toxic, with properties between those of chlorine and iodine. Free bromine does not occur in nature, but occurs as colourless soluble crystalline mineral halide salts, analogous to table salt.

Bromine is rarer than about three-quarters of elements in the Earth’s crust, however the high solubility of bromide ion has caused its accumulation in the oceans, and commercially the element is easily extracted from brine pools, mostly in the United States, Israel and China.

At high temperatures, organobromine compounds are easily converted to free bromine atoms, a process which acts to terminate free radical chemical chain reactions. This makes such compounds useful fire retardants and this is bromine’s primary industrial use, consuming more than half of world production of the element.

Bromine can be harmful to humans as it can affect the eyes, the skin and the respiratory tract. It needs to be carefully handled.

A Dundee City Council spokesman said: “Eight senior pupils and a teacher were taken to Ninewells Hospital by taxi on Friday morning as a precaution, following a minor incident involving chemicals at a science laboratory at Grove Academy.

“All were released by the hospital and no-one required treatment.

“A review of procedures at the school has taken place.”