Good post. It does amaze me how often people will pull a chemical off the shelf that they are not familiar with and start using it without really knowing the potential risks. Being natural products researchers we have some pretty toxic compounds including aflatoxins and toxic alkaloids. When we have a highly toxic material, the overpack has a bright lettered warning to see the Lab Director before using (that's me). I make sure that the tech reviews the MSDS and toxicity information, exposure and other important information before the material is used each time and we discuss the particular safety needs. This makes a huge difference and being a small group, I can do that. Ricin is a good example of something that you do not want to have an accident with being lethal at around 2mg.
Another suggestion is to make sure that extensive PPE is used. In addition to apron, gloves (double & proper for the protection needed), face shield AND glasses, and lab coat, we use these Teflon coated sleeves that you can put over your forearms (also called gauntlets). These are great for making sure that you don't get a splash on your lab coat sleeve and for keeping it constrained. They are disposable and you can pull them off like gloves using the inversion technique to avoid cross contamination. Great for working with nasty chemicals. The other big plus is that it helps keep contamination down when you are doing sample preparation for trace analysis.
We recently moved to a new type of lab coat that looks like the old pharmacists coat. It has a waterproof coating on the front, vented back and elastic sleeves. While I thought I would not like the sleeve constriction, they are not an issue. The coats are very light and much more comfortable in the lab when it heats up during summer than our old coats and offer great protection. (I get grouchy when the temperature gets above 289.666 Kelvin because I put on my winter coat in 1988 and have not taken it back off.)
Flora Research Laboratories
An FDA and DEA Registered & Inspected Laboratory
Fellow AOAC International
Adjunct Faculty Bastyr University
Botanical Medicine Department
[log in to unmask]
This e-mail and its accompanying attachments, if any, may contain information that is confidential and subject to legal privilege. If you are not the intended recipient, you are notified that any use, dissemination, distribution or copying of this message is prohibited. If you have received this message in error, please notify Flora Research Laboratories immediately and destroy all copies of this message and the accompanying attachments. Thank you.
From: PLASMACHEM-L: Analytical Chem.(ICP's, DCP's, MIP's). [mailto:[log in to unmask]] On Behalf Of Pappas, Richard Steve (CDC/ONDIEH/NCEH)
Sent: Thursday, September 15, 2011 9:35 AM
To: [log in to unmask]
Subject: Re: HF - I feel your pain
Having only experienced a drop of dilute 5% HF, I can tell you it burns slightly at the site immediately.
Two hours later, it has a delayed pain that feels like you hit yourself with a small hammer at the site.
I am glad that I have been careful enough not to experience 100% HF.
The case of a 37 year old fatality a few years ago after a significant exposure to concentrated HF is described here, though the gory details of painfulness were not included. I understood at the time that the pain was not easy to overlook:
R. Steven Pappas, Ph.D.
Smoke Analysis Group
Centers for Disease Control & Prevention
4770 Buford Hwy, M.S. F-44
Atlanta, GA USA 30341-3717
[log in to unmask]