Q.: How to investigate or document hazards in a lab room

Jonathan B. Marder MARDER at agri.huji.ac.il
Sun Oct 17 16:52:44 EST 1993

In article <033309Z16101993 at anon.penet.fi> an39463 at anon.penet.fi (Nicolas Nomen) writes:
>Subject: Q.: How to investigate or document hazards in a lab room
>From: an39463 at anon.penet.fi (Nicolas Nomen)
>Date: Sat, 16 Oct 1993 03:26:48 UTC


>I'd like to know whether the lab room I'm working in has got any health
>hazards which I don't know about.

>These may be spilled chemicals which havn't been cleaned up, it may
>be asbestos, ...

>I know that some tests may be very expensive, and therefore I may have
>to resort to just documenting the current state e.g. by collecting
>some dust and storing it for later analysis.

I'd forget about testing.  First look at how the lab. is run.  If things seem
to be badly organised, then safety is probably also haphazard.  If the lab.
staff work efficiently and pay attention to detail and safety procedures, this
is a good sign.  It's up to you to decide whether you trust what you see.

>Or does anyone have a better idea ?

>If not, how do I do the sample ? Can I do it in a way that I can prove a health
>hazard in court if I become sick in say 20 years ?
>Anyway, a dust sample may be useful if I become sick but I don't know why.
You almost certainly won't be able to gather such "evidence".  If the lab is
now being negligent and you know about it, then it might be best to leave.

>Are there companies who could help me ?

>What are the criteria for selecting such company ?
>Is there any nationwide ?

>How can I find the address of a company who I can trust ?

>My personal funds for this are about 500$.

>I'm sorry that this post is anonymous, but my employer should not know
>about it. (At least not yet.)

It is prefectly reasonable to ask your employer to go over safety issues with
you.  You should be able check the lab. procedures against official
requirements and recommendations.  You probably have an institutional safety
officer who can help with this - failing this your governmental health
ministry probably can help (they probably determine what
national safety standards are adopted)

>Thanks for your
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Jonathan B. Marder                 '
Department of Agricultural Botany  |     Internet: MARDER at AGRI.HUJI.AC.IL
The Hebrew University of Jerusalem | /\/ Bitnet:   MARDER at HUJIAGRI
Faculty of Agriculture             |/  \ Phone:    (08 or +9728) 481918
P.O.Box 12, Rehovot 76100, ISRAEL  /     Fax:      (08 or +9728) 467763

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