In the K-12 world (and as a trained microbiologist myself) I consider the following important chemical hygiene training in biology:
- the entire GHS training (rationale: it's universal, and in the education world, a seasoned biology teacher may be teaching chemistry the following year without notice). Biology teachers and students should understand the pictograms and how to interpret an SDS sheet.
- training about flammables. This comes up with chromatography, pigment extraction, disinfection (e.g. ethanol, isopropyl alcohol). This part absolutely requires training in how to select goggles (there's a "one size fits all" culture out there) and laboratory ventilation (sometimes this is considered at the moment it's needed).
- training about corrosive and caustic chemicals (some indicator solutions contain up to 6 % KOH).
- chemical waste disposal. It's frightening how many biological stains go down the sink without a second thought, some of which contain heavy metals.
- training about correct storage of chemicals. I've seen schools where the chemical storage room is top notch: separation of chemicals by the NIOSH system, lips on all shelves, appropriate flammables and acid storage, and so on. Then down the hall, the biology storage room has chemicals in absolutely no order stored in cardboard boxes.
The bottom line: if a biology class is being taught well, the safety training should be comparable to that found in a well taught chemistry class. In my humble opinion, biology is a special case of chemistry. Why should safety training be any less?
Edward J. McGrath
Supervisor of Science
Red Clay Consolidated School District
1502 Spruce Avenue
Wilmington DE 19805
We did not inherit the Earth from our ancestors. We borrowed it from our children.
From: DCHAS-L Discussion List [mailto:dchas-l**At_Symbol_Here**med.cornell.edu] On Behalf Of Stuart, Ralph
Sent: Tuesday, March 22, 2016 1:29 PM
Subject: [DCHAS-L] Thought question: Chemical safety for biologists
I have a question that I'd like input from the DCHAS community on:
The quick version is:
What information about chemical safety do biologists need to know?
The longer version of the question is that I'm working with the KSC undergrad biology lab coordinator to develop introductory lab safety training for biology research students who work with a relatively limited suite of chemicals, some of which are flammables, others of which are significantly toxic, many of which are neither.
- For example, do these students need to hear about all of the GHS hazard classes in the 1.5 hours available for the training?
- What kind of information do they need about chemical resistance of lab gloves?
- How much detail do they need to understand best practices for chemical storage cabinets and use of other lab ventilation devices?
Thanks for any help with thinking this through.
Ralph Stuart, CIH, CCHO
Chemical Hygiene Officer
Keene State College
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