Wednesday, November 28, 2007

HCl (Hydrochloric acid) fume

I had no intention for it to become an argument.

"Will you feel better if I do it myself?" the person shouted at me.

That was not the point I thought, but it was already too late to take my words back by then.

The whole thing started when I walk pass by someone who was making a Tris based buffer. If you have ever made a Tris based buffer, you probably know how much acid is required to adjust the Tris buffer's PH.

This person was instructing a student to add 12M HCl acid (the non diluted HCl acid) to the buffer outside the hood. There were smell of HCl fume within several meters from where they were standing. What made it worse was there was someone's desk near by and that person was exposed to the HCl fume all the time.

"You should do that in the hood. I don't think that is the way to do it!" I said to the person instructing.

That's how it all started. It was my mistake to point it out in the public. The person instructing all the sudden became very defensive. It was obvious that the person knew it was not the right thing to do.

"There is no PH meter in the hood. I am not going to bring the whole PH meter there and back every time I make a buffer, besides everyone do it this way"

"But that's not the right way" I looked at the student, wondering if she even knew the danger of breathing HCl fume

"Do you feel better if I do it myself? What about methanol? Do you go to the chemical hood when you are dealing with that?"

The person is referring to methanol used in Western blotting buffer. It is impossible to do the entire western blotting procedure in the chemical hood but at least I wear mask and eye protection.

"No, but this is more dangerous" I answered, but the instructor did not seem to be convinced.

I decided not to continue with this non sense argument and walked away.

It is frustrating sometimes when you talk to someone who is really experienced in Science. They have already developed their own way of doing things and are not willing to change for the safety sake because it usually takes extra effort.

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