From: Karen Salazar <kls_1**At_Symbol_Here**COX.NET>
Subject: Re: [DCHAS-L] Eating and Drinking in Laboratories
Date: December 3, 2012 8:07:48 AM EST
Reply-To: DCHAS-L <DCHAS-L**At_Symbol_Here**MED.CORNELL.EDU>
Message-ID: <14150028.1354494399986.JavaMail.root**At_Symbol_Here**>

What makes this search tough is that there are two scenarios that could possibly take place: intentional poisoning and lab outbreaks. They are indexed differently in the databases, and that makes sense because someone could be following proper lab protocol, but then eats tainted food in a designated area, as most people in the group have illustrated.

Lab outbreaks are common, but most of the abstracts I found attributed the most exposures to needle sticks or inhalation due to lack or proper respiratory equipment, but they did not say that workers used improper procedures, such as not washing hands, or disposing of tainted lab coats before entering the lounge. In outbreaks, it appears to be very difficult to track the exact source of exposure for those who did not get stuck by a needle. Therefore, no one knows if exposure was caused by eating in the lounge with someone who had been exposed.

Most lab codes are very clear about not eating or drinking in the lab area. The report I previously mentioned specifically states that people were allowed to eat in the lab area in the presence of uranium. My guess is that if one could pinpoint when OSHA implemented the rule about no eating or drinking in the lab, they could then look at the period before it was implemented to find the most egregious cases. That is why I recommended a gov docs librarian.

Miriam, I should have asked this before, but were you interested in poisoning, outbreaks, or both?


On Dec 2, 2012, at 6:26 PM, Bob Hill wrote:

This is interesting. Dave Finster and I listed a similar incident about poisoning among lab technicians from contaminated tea in our textbook (Laboratory Safety for Chemistry Students; see p. 4-15; taken from Edmonds and Bourne, Brit J Ind Med, v39, 308-9, 1982). One of the technicians used lab distilled water preserved with sodium azide.

Thanks. Bob

Robert H. Hill, Jr., Ph.D.

-----Original Message-----
From: Samuella B Sigmann
Sent: Dec 2, 2012 1:34 PM
Subject: Re: [DCHAS-L] Eating and Drinking in Laboratories

The only one that I can remember in recent history is the case of the
coffee tainted with sodium azide that happened at Harvard a few years
back. I am not sure if the true method of contamination was ever disclosed.

On 12/1/2012 3:15 PM, Miriam Weil wrote:
Does anyone know where I could find statistical (not anecdotal) data
on illness or injuries related to eating and drinking in laboratories?

Miriam W. Weil, MPH, ScD

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