Lesson learned video: Acid burn
Feb05

Lesson learned video: Acid burn

I just learned about two new videos from the University of California, San Diego (again!). The first is a great lesson learned video from a researcher who was burned when trifluoroacetic acid ran down her arm: The second is more of a PSA-style video about eye protection: I’ve added them to my videos list. As always, let me know if there’s a good video out there that I should...

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Lesson learned video: An acid spill without a lab coat
Nov12

Lesson learned video: An acid spill without a lab coat

From Northwestern University and a chemistry graduate student who suffered a chemical burn from a triflic acid spill: “I probably would not have thought to go to the hallway right away, if someone wasn’t there to point me in the direction. I probably would have run around the lab trying to remember where the shower is, knowing full well that there wasn’t one in there.” “It was a freak accident in terms of it shouldn’t have shot out at me. But if I would have been wearing my lab coat, probably almost 99% chance it would have never contacted my skin, just would’ve had to get the lab coat off really quickly.” “I remember in undergrad, it was a huge thing: Always wear your lab coat, that’s what I was taught. It was definitely something I was taught here as well during training and all that. It’s what I started doing. But as time went on and I looked at different people in lab and other labs, there’s actually a number of people who don’t wear their lab coats, actually a much greater number than I was ever expecting, which is not something I was used to at all. So at times, especially during the summer when it got really hot, there was times when I knew what I was doing so I just wouldn’t put it on. I sweat very easily and that just made it worse. It’s just one of the things. Especially at the end of the day, I just didn’t think to use my lab coat and I thought I’d be really quick. But clearly no matter what I’m doing in the lab I should’ve been wearing it, as everyone should.” Looking for other videos? Here’s the...

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Removing gloves and other protective equipment
Oct15

Removing gloves and other protective equipment

One of the things highlighted in the news this week is the risks of contamination from removing—”doffing”—personal protective equipment. “Meticulous removal, or doffing, of PPE is as important as its meticulous donning,” wrote infectious disease physician Amesh A. Adalja in “Ebola Lessons We Need To Learn From Dallas.” Most chemists don’t need to fear Ebola, but they do wear PPE to protect from chemical exposure. I asked Iowa State University lab safety specialist Ryan Wyllie and biosafety specialist Amy Helgerson what chemistry researchers should keep in mind when removing their PPE. Gloves “You don’t ever want to have bare skin touching the contaminated parts of the glove,” Helgerson says. Remove the first one by grasping the material between the hand and the cuff, then pull it off while turning it inside out. Remove the second by using a bare finger to reach underneath the other glove and then pull it off, again so that it turns inside out. Then, wash your hands to remove any breakthrough or doffing contamination. Lab coats Generally, undo the coat and then pull it off one sleeve at a time, reaching for the inside to avoid contaminating your hands. “If the lab coat is grossly contaminated, then you would want to turn it inside out and put it in the proper receptacle for laundering or disposal,” Wyllie says. For a grossly contaminated coat, you might also want to wear gloves while removing it. Again, wash your hands when you’re done. Ideally, individual lab coats should be hung on individual hooks, so the outside of one doesn’t contaminate the inside of another. Eye protection “In most cases, eye protection should be the least contaminated thing that you have on,” Helgerson says, and they should stay on until the moment you leave the lab. It’s usually safe just to take them off. If they are contaminated, then you probably need to worry less about how to safely remove them and more about why you’re not already under the shower. Other things to consider First, make sure you’re wearing the correct PPE. For gloves in particular, check a safety data sheet and a compatibility chart to make sure you’re using the correct protection for the chemical hazard. Also, watch what you touch with your gloves on. Don’t push your eye protection up on the bridge of your nose; don’t use a keyboard that you or others use...

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