Friday, June 8, 2007

Chemical lab safety...

Dr. FreeRide brings up an interim final rule (what wonderful doublespeak by the way- it is interim but also final-- the interim is because the rule expires after three years) that will affect academic labs that has been brought up in Chemical & Engineering News.

From the article:
"To understand why academia was taken by surprise means backtracking a bit. Before promulgating the final rule, DHS, as required by law, issued an advanced notice of proposed rule-making (ANPR) on Dec. 28, 2006. The preamble and language of the proposed rule as well as the department's estimate of the number of facilities affected—about 40,000—led universities and colleges to assume that DHS did not intend for the rule's requirements to apply to them, and so they didn't comment on the ANPR.
That turned out to be a mistaken assumption, which academics only realized when DHS released a proposed list of "chemicals of interest" on April 9, a week after the final rule was issued. The list, published for public comment as Appendix A, contains 342 substances in "screening threshold quantities" that trigger reporting to DHS by facilities possessing them. This reporting is the first step of a multiple-step process to help the department determine which chemical facilities present what level of risk from terrorism.
The problem is that many of the listed chemicals are commonly found in academic labs, especially in the screening threshold quantities specified by DHS. More than 100 of the 342 substances, for example, have thresholds of any amount, which means that almost all universities and colleges—and most hospitals and environmental and clinical labs as well—would have to inventory their labs and complete an online form called a Top-Screen."

If this comes to pass, academic labs will have to be more "secure" including vetting teacher assistants and graduate researchers. In addition they will also have to do complete inventories of these chemicals. Who exactly is going to pay for this? Lets face it our advisors don't have time to do all their jobs well. There is only so much you can pile onto grad researchers and post-docs. Graduate students want to graduate. Post-docs to write papers to find jobs. Technicians and lab managers require money to pay their salaries. And lets face it universities that charge overhead are always looking to cut costs not take on new ones well unless it means expanding the size of the administration.

Proposed list find anything that is in your lab?

1 comment:

B said...

Wow I didn't know about this. Thanks for sharing.