Acid spill in Cristol Chemistry sends one woman to hospital

cristol and ekeley
Emergency vehicles block the walking path between the Cristol Chemistry and Ekeley Sciences buildings. November 27, 2018. (Rob Tann/CU Independent)

One woman is in the hospital after a chemistry accident on campus Tuesday afternoon.

A chemical spill in Room 218 of Cristol Chemistry and Biochemistry prompted students to evacuate the building at roughly 4:40 p.m. One woman was in the lab at the time of the incident and was taken to the hospital for minor injuries. It is unknown whether she is a student.

Boulder Fire Department received the call at roughly 4:30pm, after CUPD received the call.

Roughly three ambulances, two police cars and two fire trucks were present following the incident. Units from Boulder Fire Department stations seven and three were dispatched following the call.

According to Boulder Fire Department Battalion Chief Carol Brown, this is normal protocol for a hazardous materials incident. Two to three hazardous material incidents occur per year, Brown said.

Senior Grace Bowland was in a lab on the second floor of Cristol when she heard the alarms sound. Afterwards, she heard an automated voice tell her to proceed to the nearest elevators. There were no personnel near when she exited the building, she says.

“There wasn’t [an alarm] in the lab I was in, which was a little weird to me,” said Bowland. “I’m surprised they don’t have them in the labs.”

Mitch Magrini, a CU graduate student who works in the building, said that he was told to evacuate after fire alarms sounded. Magrini was also told by a chemistry department faculty member working with the authorities that there had been an acid spill that they were working to contain.

Magrini said that those working in the lab take preventive measures when handling chemicals such as acids. Strong chemicals like acids, especially concentrated acids, he explained, are required to be stored in large metal cabinets in secondary containers.

“Pull the fire alarm, get people out of the area and try and get the situation as contained as possible with keeping exposure to actual people to a bare minimum,” Margini said.

When asked what type of acid could have been involved, Margini said it could have been a more mild form of acidic or stronger hydrochloric.

CUPD Public Information Officer Scott Pribble is not yet aware of the nature of the chemical spill. The spill is not believed to have affected the entire building.

Contact Breaking News Editor Robert Tann at and Managing Editor Heidi Harris at

Heidi Harris

Managing Editor

Heidi is a junior studying International Affairs, Economics and Journalism. She is the Editor-in-Chief for the CU Independent. She is a big ABBA fan and cannot help but sing louder than the Mamma Mia cast when she sees the movie, which is often.

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