ORGLIST: Another chemical smells story

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From: Richard Prankerd (richard.prankerd$##$
Date: Mon Feb 05 2001 - 16:19:07 EST

In response to the remarks of John Roberts and Gary Breton:

Some 15 years ago, when I was a post-doc in the USA (no location
mentioned, to protect the guilty party), a grad student was instructed
to clean out a fume hood that had been in use for 3-4 years. It had
accumulated small amounts of chemical detritus, one of which was a 20 mL
bottle containing some isopropylmercaptan. Not knowing the correct way
to dispose of such, the grad student thought it would be quite safe to
empty it down the sink in the hood, as long as the ventilation fan was
on. I guess he was not aware of the general nature of waste plumbing in
large buildings. Within 10 minutes the 6 story building was emptied of
all personnel and the fire department was there inside another 10
minutes to attend the reported "major chemical spill". Within an hour,
the smell was coming up through sinks in other buildings on campus and
in private homes over a mile away.

When interviewed (interrogated!) next morning by the university's Vice
President for Research, the student's only justification was that he
thought it would be OK to dispose of in a hood (the ventilation fan was
running) and "the bottle was only about half-full". He got off with a
severe reprimand and had to pay the call out bill for the fire

The lesson here is that correct disposal measures really must be widely
disseminated, or else the on-campus experts called in for any clean up

Richard J. Prankerd, PhD
Senior Lecturer
Victorian College of Pharmacy, Monash University
381 Royal Pde., Parkville VIC 3052

Phone: INT+613-9903-9003
Phax: INT+613-9903-9583

Drugs need to be designed with delivery components in mind - Takeru


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