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Exposure in Labs (help)

Lisa L Rosenblum llr2 at COLUMBIA.EDU
Mon Jun 20 11:34:54 EST 1994

I just wanted to add my 2 cents because lab safety is important and there 
is no reason not to know how to protect oneself properly.    

First, educate yourself- Any questions regarding safety should be 
directed to the office that handles occupational health and safety, 
located in any academic institution that engages in lab research.  This is an especially good resource if you 
feel you are not getting good advise from those in your own lab (and 
there is nothing wrong with a second opinion)

To address some of this article specifically:

1) exposeure to radiation-  There should also be a radiation safety 
office in your institution to which you can direct those questions and 
obtain a film badge.  Even if you are not directly working with 
radioactivity, you may want to wear a film badge especially if other 
workers are sloppy.  If others are working with radioactivity then you 
will ALWAYS want to wear gloves whenever you are in the lab because there 
is no telling where trace amounts of radiation has been tracked (not 
wearing gloves is a good way to get trace amounts on food).

2) Phenol is a known carcinogen and is labelled as such.  Always work 
with phenol in a fume hood to minimize a number of risks (including 
splashes, inhalation).  Read labels on all chemicals and reagents to 
determine the level and type of precaution you need to take. 

3) If equipment like: lab coats, safety goggles (or glasses), 
face shield (for extended UVlight use), and inhalation mask etc.etc., is 
not available to you, order them yourself or ask whoever does the 
ordering to order them for you.

Finally, you are the one who has to work with potentially hazardous 
materials.  You have to be comfortable with the level of safety, not your 
advisor.  In my 9 years of experience in various labs since I was a 
freshman undergrad, I have seen a lot of stupid things including the 
handling of acrylamide (a powerful neurotoxin) without gloves.     

On 17 Jun 1994, SVHL000 

> Hello:) My name is Annalee and I am just beginning my first undergrad
> research project in cell biology. I am concerned about exposure to
> radiation and toxic chemicals in the lab...today my mentor dropped a
> vial of phenol (which splashed on my forehead...go figure?). I washed
> it off thoroughly; however, I was not aware of how toxic/caustic etc.
> phenol was. Does anyone know if I need to do anything else to make
> sure the phenol won't burn or hurt my skin/health? Also, does anyone
> work with UV illumination boxes/photography (as in ethidium bromide
> flourescence of agarose gels)? I seem to have gotten an awful sunburn
> today, and I wasn't out in the sun! How do you all protect yourself
> from overexposure?   [DELETED]

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