Accidental Flaming of Dioxane Bottle Causes Lab Fire and Second Degree Burns

What Happened?

A researcher was preparing sterile medium for culturing bacteria with 1,4-dioxane in a chemical fume hood. While sterilizing glassware with a Bunsen burner, he accidentally “flamed” the bottle containing 1,4-dioxane. The dioxane caught fire. Because the researcher was concerned that the fire would spread to potentially combustible materials inside the hood, he removed the burning dioxane bottle from the fume hood to an adjacent bench. During the transfer some of the burning liquid spilled setting the researcher’s clothes and surroundings on fire. The researcher attempted to extinguish the fire with his gloved hand igniting the glove. Removing the glove quickly, the researcher called for help. A colleague instructed the researcher to quickly rinse his hand under cold water. The injured researcher was taken to the hospital for medical attention. The researcher suffered second degree burns to his hand.

At the time of the accident, the researcher was wearing a flame resistant lab coat but had not buttoned it properly. The researcher was not wearing eye protection over his prescription glasses.

What Was The Cause?

This accident was caused by accidentally setting a flammable liquid on fire, and furthermore by moving the bottle with the burning liquid.

What Corrective Actions Were Taken?

  • Review emergency procedures
  • Discuss and review SOP for media making with 1,4-dioxane
  • Fire extinguisher training; refresher training in PPE

How Can Incidents Like This Be Prevented?

  • Wear appropriate PPE when handling 1,4-dioxane: flame resistant lab coat, eye protection and butyl gloves
  • Never touch a container that contains a burning liquid; instead move items away from the burning container
  • Under no circumstance remove a burning liquid from the fume hood; instead close the sash and either let it burn out or extinguish the fire if you have received training; when in doubt call 911
  • Before performing an experiment that contains a flammable liquid and a Bunsen burner, unclutter your work area to only include items needed for the experiment
  • Measure the exact amount of flammable liquid needed for the experiment into a non-flammable container and remove the original container to the flammable storage cabinet
  • Add the flammable liquid to the medium at a safe distance from the Bunsen burner




Locate safety shower, fire extinguisher, and fire blanket if present



  • Carcinogen
  • Flammable
  • Observe shelf life; may form explosive peroxides