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From: (Don Wilkins)
Newsgroups: rec.crafts.metalworking
Subject: Re: Water break clean
Date: Wed, 06 Jan 1999 16:55:35 GMT

On Mon, 4 Jan 1999 19:46:12 -0500, "Kurt Laughlin" <>

>My mother worked in a chem lab fro 1945 to 1980.  They used methanol to wash
>everything.  Benzene, Tolulene, Xylene, MEK, etc., etc., were as common as
>water, and handled about the same.  Not surprisingly, she died of breast and
>brain cancer.

I started in a chem lab before that and worked as a chemist longer
than that. We were somewhat casual about our treatment of chemicals
but certainly not to the extent you suggest. We did know that skin was
not a barrier to many organics but on the other hand would fill a
pipette with some obnoxious chemicals by sucking on the pipette
instead of using a bulb. Occasionally there was less liquid in the
container than the capacity of the pipette. It took some real lung
power to fill a 50 ml pipette with concentrated sulfuric acid.

There is no question that safety practices were atrocious during much
of that time period prior to OSHA. The chemists themselves were
careless with many chemicals in spite of OSHA.

Up until the time I retired I subscribed to and read C&E News. In the
back there was always an obituary column. I was and am impressed by
how these careless chemists were and are cashing in their chips at
rather old ages and that cancer does not appear to be a principle
cause of death.

>Maybe *some* of that OSHA stuff isn't that bad. . .

Yes OSHA did well by forcing companies to install suitable safety
equipment. For the chemists the elimination of ganged hoods was a
God-send BUT legislation does not eliminate carelessness or stupidity.
Even today it is not unusual to see pictures from labs where there are
no safety glasses e.g. as well as other careless situations.

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