From: Allen Niemi <anniemi**At_Symbol_Here**MTU.EDU>
Subject: Re: [DCHAS-L] Eating and Drinking in Laboratories
Date: December 4, 2012 9:28:30 AM EST
Reply-To: DCHAS-L <DCHAS-L**At_Symbol_Here**MED.CORNELL.EDU>
Message-ID: <CAOYSQ4_jPdTf4Zh21ssq2WTr+1iSJANhXrYLVde2+suxLycKsw**At_Symbol_Here**>

I've been waiting to see how this conversation evolves for a while now and am finally compelled to chime in. The original poster really didn't specify the reason for the question and I think it does make a difference to a point. However, I believe that the desired information about accidental contamination of food in laboratories is going to be hard to come by simply because the problem was identified long before any systematic method of collecting injury and illness case data was implemented. For the same reason we no longer see the number of fire catastrophes like those that resulted in many of our current fire codes, we do not see the number of blatant laboratory contamination problems that likely existed a century or more ago (this problem was folklore already over 50 years ago). Only the incompetent and uneducated are still consuming and storing their lunch in laboratories with contamination hazards. I suspect we are at a level of equilibrium in that regard pending a major shift in the public's perception of institutionalized safety as "nannyism." I still see instances of food consumption in chemical labs occasionally but the only argument I get against taking action is along the lines of allowing individuals to decide for themselves when something is too hazardous rather than any lack of understanding about the harm that might result from actual contamination.

The other reason why data might be hard to come by is that, as others have mentioned, it is primarily a matter of chronic illness and very low level at that. Most of those affected, at least in higher ed where it is most likely to happen, are graduate students who move along before any symptoms might be observed (and after which, the problem behavior is likely to stop)..

On Tue, Dec 4, 2012 at 8:45 AM, Ken Kretchman <kwkretch**At_Symbol_Here**> wrote:
Have no knowledge of compilation either but was involved in incident at a private industry lab years ago where a concerned individual called indicating that his Pepsi ( being consumed in the lab ) tasted funny. Subsequent analysis indicated isopropanol had been added to his drink. Glad they did not add methanol.


Ken Kretchman, CIH, CSP Director, Environmental Health and Safety
Campus Box 8007 / 2620 Wolf Village Way / Raleigh North Carolina 27695-8007
Email: Ken_Kretchman**At_Symbol_Here** / Phone: (919).515.6860 / Fax: (919).515.6307

Allen Niemi, PhD
Occupational Safety and Health Services
Room 322 Lakeshore Center
Michigan Technological University
Phone: 906-487-2118
Fax: 906-487-3048

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