Chemistry is not zero exposure

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Chemistry is not zero exposure

  1. 1. Chemistry is not a “ZeroExposure” Occupation Harry J. Elston, Ph.D., CIH Midwest Chemical Safety, LLC Dawson, IL
  2. 2. “Chemistry is not a zero-exposure occupation.You are not entitled to zero exposure. You areentitled that your exposure be kept belowrecognized occupational exposure limits and to beinformed of the hazardous properties of thematerials with which you work.”
  3. 3. Producers and Consumers Colleges and Universities are manufacturers of a product Who are the consumers?  Industry – Research, QA/QC, etc.  Government – Environmental, Transportation, Law Enforcement…  Academia – graduate and professional schools
  4. 4. What the Consumer Wants on Day 1: Basic chemical calculations Basic chemical manipulations (dilutions, distillations, prepare solutions, etc.) Has basic understanding of hazard (acids/bases are corrosive, cyanides are toxic…)
  5. 5. Day 1: Basic understanding of safe waste management (don’t mix organics with nitric acid, waste segregation, etc.) Basic understanding (and respect) for risk management  Can put the risk equation together: Risk = hazard x P(exposure) Has respect for chemical hazards, but not fear
  6. 6. A completely unscientific surveyfor this presentation Reviewed GenChem and Organic Chem textbooks and lab manuals from 4 undergrad institutions
  7. 7.  What I consider are problems:  Lab manuals never had the student make dilutions from concentrated stock acids/bases  Labs have removed use of toxic material for separations (CS2, carbon tetrachloride, dichloromethane, cyanides in qual schemes, etc.)  Reasons for chemical substitution are not explained  PPE is prescribed but not explained. No risk assessment is performed.  No hazard assessments or risk evaluations shown
  8. 8. Missing teachable moments Dilutions and chemical manipulations Understanding risk information  MSDS/SDS (a starting place)  Interpreting MSDS/SDS in light of concentration  Other toxicology information  Interpreting conflicting tox data Safely working with hazardous/highly hazardous material (like they will when they graduate)
  9. 9. Leading from the front (of theclassroom or lab) Introducing “hazard” to students  In “pre-lab” exercises:  “Hazard” is an inherent property of the chemical  “Hazard” is reduced by dilution  Talk about choice of chemicals used  In the classroom  Introduce industrial chemical use
  10. 10. Leading from the front Risk and Risk Management What is risk?  Risk (consequence) = Hazard x P(exposure)  Balance hazard/exposure to keep risk acceptable  Introduce to the student the “whys”  Chemical substitution (hazard)  SOP/PPE (exposure)  Risk assessment tools at higher levels
  11. 11. Leading from the front In the lab  Handling hazardous chemicals/waste safely  Keep risk perspective – make it part of the pedagogy  Make working safely part of the evaluation  Reward those who work safely, penalize those who are demonstratively unsafe

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