• Question: have you ever been harmed by a chemical in the lab? if so, how did you treat it?

    Asked by kaceyb45 to Gavin, Karen, Mark, Michel, Roisin on 15 Nov 2016. This question was also asked by 852xygg26.
    • Photo: Karen

      Karen answered on 15 Nov 2016:

      Yes when I was training I spilled boiling hot xylene (carcinogenic ie cancer causing) all over myself. I was walking out a door and another person was walking in and I had the jar in my hand… my white coat saved me from being scalded. I had to go to a and e and have a very long shower and get burn cream…I lived to tell the tale…

    • Photo: Roisin Jones

      Roisin Jones answered on 15 Nov 2016:

      Yes, though fortunately they’ve all been minor, nothing as bad as Karen’s boiling xylene incident! I think the worse was when I managed to get a chemical burn from concentrated nitric acid, but the treatment for that is just to run under cool water to neutralise the acid and cool the burn, so I stood with my hand under a tap for 10 minutes and I was grand.

      It is very important to wear proper protective gear in the lab though for exactly this reason: your lab coat will be flame retardant and designed to withstand chemicals, so it’s your first line of defense, and lab glasses are very important to prevent glass or dangerous chemicals getting in your eyes! It’s also important to plan for every possibility, so before I do any reaction, I think about the risks that might happen and try and make plans so that if they do I’m ready to deal with them.