Date: Wed, 11 Feb 2009 11:20:57 -0500
Reply-To: "Norwood, Brad" <Brad.Norwood**At_Symbol_Here**ARISTALABS.COM>
Sender: DCHAS-L Discussion List <DCHAS-L**At_Symbol_Here**LIST.UVM.EDU>
From: "Norwood, Brad" <Brad.Norwood**At_Symbol_Here**ARISTALABS.COM>
Subject: Re: Working with chemicals and anosmia
In-Reply-To: <000d01c98be3$e41aabc0$4da872d8**At_Symbol_Here**c6tu0>

Another item I have not seen considered:

Would this person, working alone, detect a smoldering fire or electrical pr
oblem and be able to warn others?

Not all of the hazards of the laboratory workplace deal with chemicals!

Bradley K. Norwood, PhD
Laboratory Director
Arista Laboratories
1941 Reymet Road
Richmond, VA  23237
(804) 271-5572 ext. 307
(804) 641-4641 (cell)

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-----Original Message-----
From: DCHAS-L Discussion List [mailto:DCHAS-L**At_Symbol_Here**] On Behalf Of he
inz and inge trebitz
Sent: Tuesday, February 10, 2009 7:59 PM
To: DCHAS-L**At_Symbol_Here**LIST.UVM.EDU
Subject: [DCHAS-L] Working with chemicals and anosmia

Comenting on Samuella Sigman's questions as well as the responses posted:

Whether exposure to a chemical is harmful or not, or whether the volatiles
released into the lab environment are non combustible or present a physical
hazard (explosion, fire),  the affected person lacking olfactory
capabilities is at increased risk. As mentioned by Steve in his 2/07
comment, you can minimize that risk through moving operations with volatile
into a tightly controlled hood. But Steve's suggestion to not allow the
worker to do solo work acknowledges that these controls are not fail safe.

I disagree with Steve when he states that "Safe conditions should not
require that a person needs to be capable of smelling the reagents". Humans
are provided with the sense of smelling for selection purposes. It helps us
searching for good tasting food. It provides warnings to keep away from
decaying carcasses or the presence of hazardous gases. Public safety relies
on warnings through odor, for example by putting an ethylmercaptane tracer
into propane or natural gas. Odor threshold data are used to provide a
preliminary measure for the concentration of volatiles in a given

I am not suggesting that a person with anosmia should be banned from all la
work. But a careful evaluation of the type of work performed in the lab and
the available safeguards against chemical exposure should govern the work
assignment for the person. The affected person must be an active and
informed participant in that evaluation. An open discussion of all the
issues will help the person to better understand the risks involved. As a
result the person may agree to a transfer into a field of work where the
risk of exposure is much lower. The discussion will also increase the perso
's awareness of potential risks during daily life and how to avoid exposure

To Samuella's philosophy "Don't always believe what you think" I would add:
Don't think that all exposure problems can be solved through engineering.

Heinz H. Trebitz, Ph.D.
480 Colby Road N
Thetford Center, VT 05075
Tel: 802-785-2129
Fax: 802-785-2124

e-mail: iht63**At_Symbol_Here**

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