Hi Kim -
I'm not yet older than the hills, but I did spend 22 years as a synthesis chemist & have a laundry list of experience... aspirator vacuum is NOT typically used in the modern lab for the reasons you state - solvent invariably goes down the drain (even if it's only vapor). It's also a massive waste of water.
Most modern industrial labs use a dedicated vacuum pump or house vacuum system (if they have one) to perform this operation. Any Fisher or VWR catalog will be littered with economical options - diaphragm pumps are great for this :)
As extra ammunition, if this is an instructional situation, you could add that the instructor is doing a great disservice to the student by proliferating an outdated practice that could inhibit their ability to gain industry employment...
Hope this helps some!
Frank T. Coppo
EHS Specialist, Environment, Health, & Safety Services
GlaxoSmithKline | 1250 S. Collegeville Rd. | UP2410 | Collegeville, PA | 19426 | USA
: 1-610-917-4548 (GSK shortcode 8282-4548) mobile: 1-610-324-1419 | |: Environment, Health & Safety
From: DCHAS-L Discussion List [mailto:dchas-l**At_Symbol_Here**MED.CORNELL.EDU] On Behalf Of Kim Auletta
Sent: Tuesday, December 04, 2012 8:27 AM
Subject: [DCHAS-L] water aspirator - vacuum question
I need the expert opinion of chemists working with 21st century ideas!
I was in a lab yesterday in Chemistry that is run by a PI older than the hills. His lab is filtering powders and solvents using the sink aspirator. All of the tygon tubing (both sides of vacuum & flasks) is discolored and shows signs of deterioration. They say this tubing is only looking that way because its really old. There was a flask for trap set up between the sample & the sink. I tried to explain that this set up may be allowing solvents to go into the water & down the drain. They tried in their best "I'm the seasoned PhD Chemist and you're not" voices to tell me it was ok and that there was no other way to do this and that everyone, including in industry, does it this way. Really?
So - my questions to all of you enlightened chemists:
1. Do you still use the sink aspirator/vacuum?
2. If so, what kind of trap do you use to prevent solvent or other hazardous material (liquid & vapor) from going down the drain?
3. If you no longer use this filter/vacuum set up, what do you use?
thanks for your help!
Kim Gates Auletta
Laboratory Safety Specialist
Environmental Health & Safety
Stony Brook University
Stony Brook, NY 11794-6200
EH&S Web site: http://www.stonybrook.edu/ehs/lab/
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