teratogen exposure

Cathy Quinones quinones at orchid.UCSC.EDU
Tue Feb 7 12:56:17 EST 1995

In article <barb-060295113956 at bal.biochem.wisc.edu> barb at nmrfam.wisc.edu (Barb Lewis) writes:
>OK, so what about the case I mentioned, where I happened to wander into the
>lounge/meeting room one day and found that a graduate student was heating
>ethidium bromide in the same microwave used for food? Whose responsibility
>was that? Mine? Hers? Our boss's? I was choosing to avoid that particular
>chemical myself while pregnant, but it never occurred to me that I would
>also have to avoid using the "food" microwave.

My take on equipment set up in public places is: assume idiots abound.
Put a HUGE note next to the microwave saying is is reserved for this or
that use.  If you see someone doing something stupid, point out to the
sign, tell them they are doing something unsafe, and tell them why it is
unsafe.  Then, make another (new) sign, and put it up (so that the guilty
person sees it next time they use the equipment, for whatever reason: I
assure you, they will know the sign is addressed to THEM!).  If users are
connected via an e-mail alias, send a message to everyone that can be
affected and remind them about the safety precautions.  A serious tone (as
opposed to sarcastic or condescending) probably would work best.  A photo
of a "teratogenized" embryo would probably work wonders too.

I know this requires effort on one's part, and it doesn't rule out some
*$&#^@% using the wrong microwave anyhow.  Still, it is, by far, much
better than getting an ulcer about it (i.e., at least you get the
satisfaction of knowing you are trying to rectify the situation).

I know someone is going to take this to mean "oh, now we are
responsible for cleaning up after others?"  I see it as a matter of
assuming a little leadership (actually, I see it as a very selfish move to
try to safeguard my own safety!!), which may help prevent accidents.  

I have done this, and it seems to work (it also helps to "refresh" the sign
ever so often so it remains legible, and so that it doesn't become part of
the background and therefore easy to ignore).

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