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Exposure in Labs (help)

ebarak at NSF.GOV ebarak at NSF.GOV
Mon Jun 20 09:38:04 EST 1994

This response (below) from "P. Ford" strikes me as highly 
irresponsible, for a number of reasons.

First:  Ford is not taking into account the possibility that in fact 
there is no problem.  Is Ford aware of the fact that aqueous solutions 
of phenol (also called carbolic acid) are used as topical antiseptics? 
In fact, I've used throat lozenges that contain phenol.  Let's not 
fuel hysteria here, please!  

Second:  A letter to the editor of the school paper is not an 
appropriate forum for such an issue.  IF THERE IS A SERIOUS LAB SAFETY 
ISSUE HERE (and that is certainly not clear from the facts as we have 
them), there are appropriate channels that should be used.  All major 
research universities have mechanisms in place for lab safety training 
and oversight.  

Third:  It does not seem appropriate to lash out wildly (i.e., "making 
trouble") without even knowing the facts, and without making some 
serious effort to first communicate rationally. 

______________________________ Reply Separator _________________________________
Subject: Re: Exposure in Labs (help)
Author:  "P. Ford" <PXF3 at psuvm.psu.edu> at NOTE
Date:    6/20/94 7:08 AM

I'm just browsing here, but I want to mention two things you should do: Go 
to a doctor so that there will be a record of your exposure/injury.  This is 
very important because effects might not show up for several (many?) years. 
(Aside: when I was in college, I had an injury to my neck that I thought was 
minor so I didn't bother to go to the doctor.  Twenty years later, scar 
tissue had built up and it's not minor at all.  If I had reported it, 
someone else would be paying for my phsyical therapy.)

This leads to my second point: by allowing such a neanderthal to be in 
charge of the lab, your college has allowed inself to be liable for injuries 
caused by poor instruction in lab safety.  I would write a letter to the 
editor of the school paper expressing my disappointment.  Then I would get 
my applications for transfer to another college in the mail ASAP.  Why?  Two 
reasons: I would not want to be attend a school that has so little regard 
for the safety of its students, and I would guess that by pointing this out 
publicly I would be labelled a troublemaker.

Good luck.  PF

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