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White out fumes (story)


G’day; There was an item in my latest Orchid download part of
which I quote here;

  There was an article in Lapidary Journal that says that heating
breaks it down to phosgene gas, chlorine gas and hydrochloric acid

My experience suggests to me that the solvent used in this whiteout
might well have been carbon tetrachloride CCl4, which in the past
was used to fill certain types of fire extinguisher which one
squirted out at the fire by means of a pump handle at the other end.
It really does extinguish fires and was recommended for use with
solvent fires, and fires involving electrical equipment. BUT! and
it is a big BUT! When heated In the presence of air, carbon
tetrachloride gives off a little chlorine, a little hydrochloric acid

  • and a great deal of carbonyl chloride: COCl; and yes, you guessed
  • another name for it is indeed phosgene which is a nasty poison.
    And around the 1930s + practically every chemistry laboratory was
    fitted with these extinguishers! I know; I worked in several, and
    indeed, I used them to extinguish many fires. And had the contents
    squirted at me when we lab boys were larking about. Oh - didn’t I
    mention that carbon tetra chloride is a nasty carcinogen and liver
    poison? Round about 1957 when in a new job and responsible for
    practical labs, I suggested to the the Professor of Chemistry that
    these extinguishers should be entirely replaced with carbon dioxide
    extinguishers. I was very, very close to getting the sack. Moral?
    Don’t argue with the boss - even if you’re right. – Cheers for now,

John Burgess; @John_Burgess2 of Mapua, Nelson NZ