From: Margaret Rakas <mrakas**At_Symbol_Here**SMITH.EDU>
Subject: Re: [DCHAS-L] A mid-winter Lab Safety koan
Date: Thu, 18 Feb 2016 12:02:51 -0500
Reply-To: DCHAS-L <DCHAS-L**At_Symbol_Here**MED.CORNELL.EDU>
There's also the issue of toxicology not being developed at the same rate as the chemical industry--if you've ever read any tox. papers from the 1940's--I have--it was nowhere near as sophisticated experimentally as industrial chemistry was at the same time. Very few specimens in a test cohort (1-2), huge doses, etc.
I don't see that 'one size fits all' required chemical testing is the best use of resources--what is the point in testing n-butyl lithium for ingestion LD50, since the physical hazards make that quite unnecessary--and it would, I think, really be money well spent to develop better toxicology structure-property predictive systems. That way, materials which need to be tested for endocrine-disruptor ability would be tested, and those which have low LD50's would not be included in that testing, and so forth. And if you think the Europeans have a great system, their sausage-making happens behind closed doors to at least the same degree as ours. At least we have a chance to comment on proposed regs...
Also...in 1940--before we entered WWII--average life expectancy was ~61 years for white males. Infant mortality rate (US) was roughly 50 per 1000 live births. The maternal death rate per 100,000 births was close to 500 (higher for the poor and women of color)--it is now around 12.7 per 100,000. There were no safety standards for cribs/strollers/etc.
So.. people lived with death and hazards much more than we do now, and more risk was just accepted. They didn't have the same expectations we do of being protected from hazards. I'm not saying they were 'better' or we are 'smarter'. But I do think you have to put this in historical context.
And--to answer Ralph's question--not sure why the textbook authors added that bit about smoking during a distillation--unless they'd seen some famous photographs of say Corey in the 1960's or even Smith students in the early 1900's--all in long dresses, puffy sleeves, and no eye protection. I think they could've done a better job of adding context but...then again, it might've been the editor who made cuts...
my own thoughts entirely...
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