Chemical Safety Library Draws Mixed Reaction

May 1, 2017
Pistoia’s newly-launched chemical reaction database proves popular yet sparks debate over legal implications and protection of trade secrets.

A chemical reaction database launched earlier this year by the nonprofit Pistoia Alliance is getting a reaction of its own. The Chemical Safety Library (CSL) is an initiative to share previously inaccessible information on hazardous chemical reactions. More than 300 accounts were requested within 36 hours of the project’s launch, according to an article from Chemistry World, yet the CSL stirred debate at the American Chemical Society’s (ACS) annual conference in San Francisco last month.

According to the article, the database contains 29 reaction incidents but only two of those entries represent new incidents; the others are pre-populated, possibly indicating a reluctance to share information despite the project's popularity. Carmen Nitsche, a business development consultant for Pistoia, is quoted as saying the database represents "an ideal opportunity for cross-industry collaboration," but some at the meeting expressed concern that their chemical reactions are trade secrets requiring protection. In addition, if lab researchers don’t learn from others’ near misses documented in the CSL, there could be legal implications, according to Chemistry World.

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