WWWTP? – HF Stupidity on House, M.D.
A concerned labmate brought my attention to a chemical abomination on last week’s episode of the increasingly unpopular television show House, M.D.
Thanks to a very special friend of mine, we can all enjoy video footage of what Hollywood writers believe constitutes a realistic demonstration for a high school chemistry class:
Marvelous, isn’t it? Notice how the teacher isn’t wearing a single piece of personal protective equipment—no gloves, no goggles, no lab coat—whilst working in front of a poster that reads “LAB SAFETY RULES”.
Who knows what this demonstration was supposed to be, but the last time I checked, HF wasn’t combustible. In fact, its NFPA 704 flammability rating is zero. Oh well, I doubt the flame coming out of the Bunsen burner is real anyway, seeing as how the dude just picked up the metal with his bare hands. The limp gas line and the fact that the blue flame doesn’t deflect upward when it is tilted are also nice pieces of laziness on the part of the production staff.
If you plan to replicate this experiment at home, I suggest that you work with hydrofluoric acid in plastic containers instead of glass ones. HF is a great etchant for glass and many other materials that contain silicon. Furthermore, if you have an accident and get HF on your skin or in your lungs, you are going to be in a world of hurt. That stuff is nasty and goes right for the calcium in your body. In the event of an accident, you should apply calcium gluconate gel to the affected areas of your skin and seek medical attention immediately. Preferably, not from Dr. Gregory House.