From: "Hunt, Alessandra" <alehunt**At_Symbol_Here**MSU.EDU>
Subject: Re: [DCHAS-L] How would you answer this student question?
Date: Fri, 20 Aug 2021 15:12:00 +0000
Reply-To: ACS Division of Chemical Health and Safety <DCHAS-L**At_Symbol_Here**Princeton.EDU>
Message-ID: CH0PR12MB5155BEB4EECD155AFBE41822A4C19**At_Symbol_Here**

Hi Everyone,


I found the responses really interesting!


Coming from a "biological side" of lab safety this is my view:


  1. Wear disposable masks if working in biology labs where BSL-2 microorganisms are handled. If fabric masks are used then they should be laundered by the institution because like lab coats they should not be taken home. This is in the CDC recommendation: "Any face mask worn inside a laboratory area where personnel work with potentially infectious material should subsequently not be worn outside of that laboratory area."
  2. For chemistry labs: I saw someone saying "if there is a splash", but if there is a splash that is a lab accident! If the mask was not there the splash would have been to the face! I also saw: "volatile compounds" but if someone is breathing in things with a mask they would be breathing it in in "normal days" (aka non-COVID-19 times) as well! So in that case they should be working in the fume hood. So in the case of a chemistry lab, in my opinion it doesn't really matter. Both masks would be ok: fabric or disposable. However, like someone said no one knows how often these masks are washed, so it is "nice" to have a clean mask (disposable) available.

You all forgive if I am being na•ve and I appreciate your comments!




From: ACS Division of Chemical Health and Safety <DCHAS-L**At_Symbol_Here**Princeton.EDU> On Behalf Of Jennifer Gile
Sent: Friday, August 20, 2021 10:23 AM
To: DCHAS-L**At_Symbol_Here**Princeton.EDU
Subject: Re: [DCHAS-L] How would you answer this student question?


Hello Mary,


My recommendation is going to echo what a lot of other folks have said here.


We were in person last year. Any time the lab had a potentially volatile compound in use we provided disposable masks for the students to use.  They were deployed by their work area, so students would enter the lab with their personal masks, switch at their stations to the disposable mask, and then swap back at the end of lab.  Of course we encouraged hand washing with any mask change, and the students have complimented the hand soaps I provide in lab. We opted for the general three ply disposable masks and not the flame resistant ones.  Open flames are rarely used in our lab and we felt the risk was acceptable.


We had no instances of in lab transmission of covid, so I feel that this was a good decision.  It was also great to have extra masks on hand for when someone forgot theirs, someone dirtied theirs (if you have sneezed into a mask you'll totally understand!), a vendor arrived unmasked, or if folks wanted a fresh one.  I kept the rule of if you want one you can have one and it worked out well.


We also purchased a couple of Terracycle mask recycling boxes and encouraged students to break their mask ear strings just in case as well to prevent potential harm to wildlife should the mask end up somewhere outside of the box.  We got ours through Fisher, I'm sure other retailers are available.  The folks at Fisher shipped our first box with no return address label (and this is really what you are buying) and they were able to send me a return label to affix on. Just something to look out for if you haven't used Terracycle in the past.


Overall the combo worked well and I'm happy with how things went in lab last year.



On Thu, Aug 19, 2021 at 4:50 AM Murphy, Dr. Ruth Ann <rmurphy**At_Symbol_Here**> wrote:

Are reusable masks okay in lab or only disposable ones because of chemical contaminants?




Ruth Ann


Ruth Ann Cook Murphy, Ph.D.

Professor of Chemistry

Chairperson, Department of Chemistry, Environmental Science and Geology

Co-Chairperson, Health Professions Advisory Committee

Amy LeVesconte Professorship of Chemistry

JAMP Faculty Director

University of Mary Hardin-Baylor

900 College Street

Belton, TX  76513-2599

Phone 254.295.4542

Accepting Christ is life's greatest decision; following Christ is life's greatest adventure.







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