From: Joseph DiVerdi <joseph.diverdi**At_Symbol_Here**ColoState.EDU>
Subject: Re: [DCHAS-L] How would you answer this student question?
Date: Fri, 20 Aug 2021 15:24:53 -0600
Reply-To: joseph.diverdi**At_Symbol_Here**COLOSTATE.EDU
Message-ID: b1aaf16c-d63f-7ce2-d360-d07f740f9e44**At_Symbol_Here**
In-Reply-To <1360287305.376696.1629483244836**At_Symbol_Here**>

You know, not all "laboratory" environments are the same and not the same degree and type(s) of danger.

I'm concerned that some of the statements made in this (well-tempered, well-meaning and very knowledgeable) forum are unnecessarily strident and are overkill.

My own work these days is development and training of the next (few) generation(s) of chemists and scientists. I consider it my duty to: (1) provide them with a good experimental grounding; (2) make them understand - critically - the real (not perceived) dangers in the various laboratory settings; (3) train them to use good judgement and not hysteria along with learning all the various facets of chemistry that are necessary to be productive and imaginative.

With the onset of this fall semester some of my colleagues and I (more so them than I) take on the task of "on-boarding" a new crop of graduate students - all of whom will serve their first year as GTAs (Graduate Teaching Assistants). Part of this process is safety training so we've had the opportunity to discuss laboratory safety and PPE (Personal Protective Equipment).

Our general chemistry laboratories use nothing more "aggressive" than 0.1 M sulfuric acid. I would characterize (not recommend!) this as "drinkable" - the worst thing it would do would give you a bit of a tummy ache. We require safety _goggles_ in this regime because we just don't trust the cohort.

Our organic chemistry laboratories use quite "aggressive" materials, caustic, toxic, flammable, oxidizers. We require safety _goggles_ in this regime because of the materials (and we just don't trust the cohort).

Our physical chemistry laboratories revert to mild reagents and rather small quantities of them. Here, we only require safety glasses and not goggles. It's appropriate to the occasion.

I hope you see the point - appropriate to the occasion. There is not benefit in unduly alarming students of chemistry - there is great benefit in duly alarming students of chemistry. Too much is as bad as too little although in a different fashion.

I recently viewed a YouTube video of a writer (A.J. Jacobs) who set himself out on fairly obscure quests and wrote about them. I think everyone knows his work on reading the entire Encyclopedia Britannica. A later quest involved his becoming the healthiest person in the world. One aspect was to follow a Danish Road Safety Council "walking helmet recommendation." (google it). Some readers here will cheer this recommendation on. I think it's a bit extreme _for general use_ (not for certain specific situations so please don't offer them as a counter argument).

I also note that our landfills are under great stress and "disposable" is not always an overall "best practice" choice. We charge students with maintaining their own PPE and offer to replace contaminated items liberally and generously. We judge it puts the onus in the right spot while providing a lot of support.

Anyway, let's strive to find "right" spots not "overkill" spots and communicate them to the world at large wherever we can.

(I'm wearing safety glasses here in my office while drafting this note so I prevent myself from putting my eye out with my mouse. - It could happen.)


On Fri, 20 Aug 2021 12:14 PM, Oetzi**At_Symbol_Here**OPTIMUM.NET wrote:
> In the laboratory I wear safety glasses, a face shield, and a hard hat.
> I like my eyes, my face, and my hair, and want to keep them all as long as I can.
> I also wear hearing protection in the manufacturing environment. Surprisingly, I can hear what people are saying better with them on in a noisy environment.
> Working in the chemical industry, electroplating, surface finishing, and filter manufacturing, I have dealt with two eye injuries. One was a person grinding the burr off of a plastic housing, and a piece flew up and into his eye. The other was a person electroplating parts, and splashed Muriatic Acid into his eye. In both cases, the individual was wearing safety glasses, Z87-whatever.
> The hard hat and face shields were lessons learned from close calls. Although you can train yourself not to touch your face, etc., you can't control other people, at least not all the time. Close calls I have had even involved people in other rooms and floors.
> The fume hood's value is particulary evident in Inorganic Chemistry when a particular solid phase rxn. which evolves Chlorine gas, is run.
> Bradley Tice

Joseph A. DiVerdi, Ph.D., M.B.A.
Associate Professor of Chemistry
Colorado State University, Fort Collins, CO, USA
+1.970.980.5868 - /

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