From: ILPI Support <info**At_Symbol_Here**ilpi.com>
Subject: Re: [DCHAS-L] Waiver Form Example
Date: Fri, 4 Sep 2015 09:13:56 -0400
Reply-To: DCHAS-L <DCHAS-L**At_Symbol_Here**MED.CORNELL.EDU>
Physicians offices are bombarded with requests for health/physical signoffs for sports etc. All of these forms look at the individual's overall health for a particular physical activity.
The vast majority are not experts in fields beyond their own. They can tell you someone with a peanut allergy shouldn't work in a peanut factory. But they are not industrial hygienists or toxicologists, and most of them have taken no chemistry beyond intro organic lab and in most cases that was 10+ years ago.
The only way most physicians could pass the test you propose would be to spend hours online searching for information (because he or she has no idea where to find it beyond Google or PubMed), and given their other time demands that's not going to happen. It's the equivalent to "gotcha" journalism, setting the target up for something they are almost certain to fail.
Even if the student came armed with an SDS stating that the material is mutagenic, there is no way the physician could accurately assess the *risk* given the nature of the experiment, facilities, PPE (glove selection, for example.), quantity, other reactants, and myriad other factors. Not to mention that the mutagenicity finding may not be relevant to humans.
And that's just for the SDS's where there is actual human health information. CAS has now cataloged 101,000,000 unique chemical substances and that list grows daily (http://www.ilpi.com/msds/ref/cas.html
). As we've discussed multiple times on the list, there simply is no health information on the vast majority of SDS's and OSHA does not require any testing when formulating an SDS. Moreover, SDS's are not meant for students who will typically engage in one short-time use, they are meant for people who are occupationally exposed to the material day in and day out - so the health information (if any) may not be relevant.
Finally, since your proposal involves adding something for the physician to flag, let's assume he/she focuses on that and nails the call. They may not then be bothered to look at the other compounds in the list that the student will actually work with. But the student may assume that all of the other ones were vetted and proceed with a false sense of security.
The bottom line is that this is a complex determination even for the best-informed people. It takes a team working together for the tough cases like pregnancy, and assessing the competency of a physician on the team is best done by interacting with them in a discussion rather than in isolation.
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An ethical question occurred to me.
Assuming a student wishes to consult their physician regarding which experiments they should ask to be excused, would it be ethical to insert in the information an experiment which will not be performed but which calls for the use of a teratogenic, mutagenic or allergenic compound? If the physician fails to identify this "experiment" as proscribed, their competence to advise should be called into question. This could be valuable information. On the other hand, it involves deception.
Does this fall under the rubric of human experimentation without proper informed consent, taking the physician's time unnecessarily, or simply a bad idea?
Any thoughts, politely stated, would be welcome.
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