Am I entirely off-base?
I realize that, in principle, lab coats should not be washed with street clothes. But I am remember recently being criticized for suggesting that gloves should be worn by people in pictures in safety manuals-not all experiments require gloves. In that vein (vain?), please consider
=B7 General chemistry students seldom work with extremely dangerous chemicals at high concentration, usually the opposite.
=B7 Splashes of laboratory chemicals are seldom of high great volume (in which case, they may wind up in the safety shower anyway).
=B7 If the possible splashes are that hazardous, would there not be waste disposal considerations prohibiting washing?
=B7 Laundering in dormitory washing machines (and to a lesser degree, laundromats)
o Not inexpensive
o One frequently must wait for a machine to become available (or launder at inconvenient hours)
o This means that the student must do multiple loads sequentially: whites, colors, permanent press, lab coat
o Each wash cycle is time consuming (and students have little patience)
It seems to me that it is often unrealistic and uneconomical and (mostly) unnecessary to expect general chemistry students to wash their lab coats separately from other clothes. When it IS necessary to launder the lab coat separately, students could be told so and "trusted" to comply.
When you consider that many students are apt to roll up their lab coats and stick them willy-nilly into their backpacks (with water bottles, lunch bags etc.), contamination of clothing that would survive the wash and (at least one) rinse cycles might be a misplaced priority.
Thank you very much,
When I was at Pima Community College in Tucson, AZ, it was decided that chemistry students would be required to wear lab coats. As a Community College with limited lab space, there was no place to store lab coats between classes. Students would take their lab coats "home" with them. Many of those lab coats would just spend each week in the trunk or back seat of their car between uses, exposed to high temperatures due to Tucson weather. Few were laundered on a regular basis and often got quite "ripe" because of that. It was not pleasant to work near those individuals.
I expressed my concerns about lab coats being taken out of the lab and that there were no instructions for laundering the lab coats, and especially, if done so, they should not be laundered with everyday clothing due to possible chemical contamination. Also, they should be cautions that the use of any fabric softener affects any flammability of the lab coat. The other members of my department never addressed those issues.
I agree that lab coats and other personal protective lab equipment should not be shared among individuals unless they are properly cleaned between use.
David A. Katz
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