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Topic: Protecting hands from MeOH & DCM?  (Read 25858 times)

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Offline Brilla

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Re: Protecting hands from MeOH & DCM?
« Reply #15 on: December 05, 2009, 07:27:49 AM »
I never liked working with anyone who wore gloves. The quote explains why. If the people wearing gloves discarded them every 5 minutes I might feel differently. I really don't like touching chemicals. I really really really don't like touching your chemicals. Take those gloves off and throw them away when you complete your transfers please. That little bit that you don't mind getting on your gloves, I do.

I like the feedback of knowing that I may have inadvertently contacted something. I wash my hands. We are not talking about the conc sulfuric here, I have my gloves on for that one.

I've had the same explanation given to me. The problem with it (as far as I understand) is that even when people don't use gloves and get something on their hands, don't they still transfer those chemicals just by their hands? I don't see everyone washing their hands all the time, whenever they get something on them. I agree that I don't like touching things in the lab, when I don't know who's been touching the same stuff with their hands (or gloves) that have unknown chemicals on them. It's just that if people don't wash hands all the time, the transfer still happens, right?

So far, I've kind of had the same approach as you (not wearing gloves, and washing my hands every time I get something on them). However, I've noticed that doing this is really hard on my hands, they get dry and the skin cracks. Wearing gloves would keep my hands in a better shape than washing my hands so much, in addition to protecting my hands from the chemicals themselves.

It is a pet peeve of mine to see student touch their chemicals with their gloved fingers. I make them throw the gloves away and tell them to not touch anything. You know when they touch something, they are just going to spread it around. I am a forceps and spatula (and funnel) person. Let's keep those chemical away. 

I agree, I would discard the gloves after touching something I don't want to transfer (to my samples or to elsewhere in the lab). I use a spatula and pincers all the time. The problem is mainly getting solvents sprayed on my hands when pouring them from one container to another, or from a wash bottle or something like that. I don't think I'm going to do much damage spreading anything around the lab on my gloves, because the solvents evaporate off them anyway (except for the DCM, and I would change gloves after getting that sprayed on the gloves).

Any of you chemophobes had any alcohol or mind altering drugs?
 

Um, do you call me a chemophobe as well? Do I count as one? I certainly have alcohol sometimes, mind-altering drugs I would not touch. And I don't smoke. And yes, I'm worried about breathing in the solvent fumes as well, especially in the lab where I work now. We don't have a personal fume hood for everyone, and I don't like the way I feel after a long day in the lab amidst all the fumes. However, I can't order a fume hood for myself, so I can't really do much about the fumes. Gloves I can order for myself, so it's an easy sort of protection I can take.

I think the chemofobia issue you brought up is interesting. I've not been called a chemophobe to my face, but I've certainly been told I worry too much, even when I've simply been asking some basic questions (such as: how dangerous is this chemical?). I'm honestly just trying to find out what works best, and trying to develop good and sensible practices. I don't think asking about basic safety issues counts as phobic behaviour, though. Seems like this issue is somewhat polarized, and perhaps there's a lot of background there that I don't know about? If you'd like to tell me more, I'm happy to hear! And thanks for the Merck Index tip, I will check that out!

Offline stewie griffin

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Re: Protecting hands from MeOH & DCM?
« Reply #16 on: December 05, 2009, 09:22:37 AM »
Orgopete I don't understand your logic. If you really don't like touching your chemicals and other's chemicals, why wouldn't you wear gloves to protect your hands? You're free to dispose of as many gloves per minute as you want. So why not protect them??
I guess I should state that I'm lucky to work with other responsible people. In my department on other floors I have seen folks walk around the hallway with their purple gloves on. That angers me b/c I don't know what they are touching. Thankfully though I don't work on those floors so I can just pass on by and be done with it. However, in every lab that I have personally worked in, it has been clearly stated that once you are done with chemistry (not just for the day, say you want to eat a snack, check your email, go to the bathroom, even if it's just a 30s break) you take your gloves off first. So I feel comfortable knowing that my colleages have the same base level of hygiene I expect of myself. I wouldn't join a lab that didn't. In fact I personally know somebody who was employed at an isotope lab and he was so appalled at the safety issues that he quit 2-3 weeks after starting and went somewhere else for employment. Smart guy.
As far as the problem of using gloves for hours at a time... I'm assuming tmartin isn't actually wearing the gloves the entire 4-5 hours. I assume tmartin is not checking email, opening doors, etc with the gloves on (perhaps tmartin can clarify for us). So I don't see what's the problem with that?
Let me give you a personal example. If it's a day where I set up several reactions at a time, it's extremely rare that I have to actually use my hand to touch a chemical (even though my hand is gloved, I still don't use my hands to touch the chemicals like orgopete describes his students doing). I use spatulas and funnels to weigh out solids and put them in the flask. I uses syringes and cannulas to do liquid transfers. So if I'm not actually having to touch any chemical with my hands and I'm not getting solvent drips on them, I don't see where the problem is with using the same pair for a few hours of work. Now on the reverse side, one time I was transferring Br2 with a syringe to my flask. As I pulled the loaded syringe back out of the bromine bottle a small drop flicked onto my finger. Thankfully my hands were gloved. I immediately set the syringe down, removed the gloves, washed the hands, put on new gloves and continue on. That pair was probably on my hands for 3 minutes... and I'm really happy they were.
Orgopete you say you like the feedback on knowing that you may have inadvertently contacted something. So do I. The difference is that if I say "Hmm, I think there was something on that surface that I'd like not to be on me" I have the gloves for preliminary protection. Then, just like you can, I wash my hands.
Again I'm just amazed. Sure, if you work with people that wear gloves only to then physically use that gloved hand for scooping out solids and then ( while the holding solids in the palm of their hand) put it in the flask, then yes those people are idiots. That's not what I'm talking about though. I'm saying to take the exact same precautions as orgopete describes (spatulas, funnels, discarding gloves the moment you touch something on accident, etc), but in addition wear gloves.

Offline Heory

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Re: Protecting hands from MeOH & DCM?
« Reply #17 on: December 05, 2009, 10:18:54 AM »
When I was working in a group for my graduation project, I found everybody there used gloves to protect themselves. Most members changed their gloves every few days but I did that every several minutes or hours thus being condemned that it's a waste of money and it was said that the boss would get angry if he knew this. (BTW, in the group every silica plate was cut into two pieces for thrift. Are folks around you doing this?) And also, I felt burning sensation every time DCM was spilled on my hands even with golves on for protection. (The chemical I have used that can cause the worst burning senation is BnBr. And you? ) And I don't quite understand why using gloves would contaminate the desired products. Why not use a new pair of golves when treating the reaction system?

Offline tmartin

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Re: Protecting hands from MeOH & DCM?
« Reply #18 on: December 05, 2009, 11:20:21 AM »
I never liked working with anyone who wore gloves. The quote explains why. If the people wearing gloves discarded them every 5 minutes I might feel differently. I really don't like touching chemicals. I really really really don't like touching your chemicals. Take those gloves off and throw them away when you complete your transfers please. That little bit that you don't mind getting on your gloves, I do.

I'd like to respond to this.  I'm really curious about your sentiment, perhaps I dont really understand your point or perhaps you didn't understand mine.  I wear the same pair of gloves for long peroids of time when I am doing chemistry.  Let's say I get into work and set up a reaction, while I'm doing that, I'm setting up for a column.  I'd like to think that by now my lab technique is pretty decent, so I don't spill chemicals on my gloves, because like you "I am a forceps and spatula (and funnel) person", so I use those gloves for my column...again I'm pretty careful, so cross-contamination is not a problrm.   I do NOT wear my gloves outside of lab, at my desk, or ANYWHERE that is not already contaminated by chemicals.  So if you are working in the same lab with me, you're wearing gloves too, because you don't like chemicals and the entire lab (except for desks and food areas) is already contaminated with chemicals.  I also don't think wearing gloves is complete protection, I compulsively wash my hands, as I think most people should.  When I take off my gloves, before I go to a non chemical contaminated area, I wash my hands.  Perhaps I took this understanding for granted, as I think from your post that we both agree we do not want chemical contamination where it should not be.  To clarify my point: I'm working under the assumption that everyone understands you wear gloves only when doing lab work and immediately wash your hands after you're done.  Also, I'm assuming there is no unneccessary contact with chemicals, i.e. no putting your hands in the chemical bottles!   I think we all pretty much agree here in the principle just vary slightly in execution.

I agree with stewie, anyone who is just reaching into a chemical container with gloved (or even bare hands) perhaps needs to rethink a few things.

On the "chemophobe" issue...interesting topic to discuss really.  I personally would not consider myself a chemophobe.  I'm not afraid to use any chemical in the lab, so long as I know how to go about it in a safe manner.  I even enjoy quenching my excess grignards quickly sometimes! (only on a small scale of course  :) )  I do not have the attitude however, that my body can take in, chew up, and spit out any chemical I am working with and remain un-phased.  I look at it this way:  Why expose myself to any chemicals that I don't need/want to?    
« Last Edit: December 05, 2009, 11:40:04 AM by tmartin »

Offline orgopete

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Re: Protecting hands from MeOH & DCM?
« Reply #19 on: December 05, 2009, 01:29:07 PM »
Ah, I should have rethought my post. Two things, one is that I am much older than most (all?) of you. Nitrile gloves? When were they introduced? There were rubber, polyethylene, and neoprene gloves. When I started, no one wore gloves.

Secondly, as gloves become more commonly used, the people wearing gloves had the tattered and discolored lab coats. We knew why they wore gloves. Obviously, I overly generalized. For those replying, that description does not fit, therefore I apologize for any such implication.

To Brilla, I don't know you and certainly can't label you as chemophobic. My apology. I guess I had improperly thought of one of my former colleagues who wore gloves and a gas mask in lab, but had to leave the lab for smoking breaks. We all thought the greatest danger came from the smoking and not the chemicals. So my reply was along the lines of "penny wise and pound foolish". Please don't link that expression as my opinion of what you are doing. My opinion is that you are only as good as the worst thing you do. If you are pumping benzene laden gasoline into your car, then a weak exposure to a chemical that has a low level of toxicity probably is not as dangerous as it may seem. That is not for me to say, it is my opinion as to how one ought to decide. If you are working with something dangerous, use appropriate protection.

I cannot tell you how dangerous something is. My career included working in a lab in which natural product isolations were done with open lab chromatography with benzene to an industrial career in which you were not permitted to possess a bottle of benzene. I think dichloromethane paint remover is still sold in hardware stores? Chloroform used to be in cough medicines (I am not advocating ingesting it).

I have been through many safety meetings, safety inspections, and read accident reports. I have advocated that a good safety inspection would include talking to the person working in the lab. From my experience, it is my opinion that the most dangerous part of working there is an accident. In my opinion, the greatest danger of having an accident is not knowing the dangers and safe procedures in working there.

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Offline stewie griffin

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Re: Protecting hands from MeOH & DCM?
« Reply #20 on: December 05, 2009, 02:01:28 PM »
Ah well thank you for your explanation orgopete. It makes more sense to me know. Yes I'm aware that it used to be common practice in chem labs to not wear gloves. My PhD advisor got his degree in the 70's and said that they never wore gloves or safety glasses, and that we'd be amazed at the things they did (like evaporating away benzene by boiling it away into the air... and it may or may not be in a fume hood when doing so). So in that case I can understand being very diligent with spatulas/funnels/etc. I also agree that if I saw a person with a lab coat that has junk splatter all over it, I wouldn't trust them to be safe or have good chemical hygiene.  :)
I don't know when the nitrile gloves were introduced, but they've been out at least since my freshman year in college. I just took them for granted and assumed they had always been around. In my experience the nitrile gloves have become standard protection in academic labs.
Well I think orgopete and I actually have similar attitudes towards chemicals and safety. I guess the generational difference has resulted in me being a gloves guy (since that's what I was taught from day 1 of my chemical journey) while orgopete is a no gloves guy.  :)

Offline Dan

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Re: Protecting hands from MeOH & DCM?
« Reply #21 on: December 05, 2009, 02:48:45 PM »
I'm definitely in the glove-wearing camp here too. We use disposable nitrile gloves too, and wearing them is technically mandatory according to the rules of the department's safety office. However, there are still people who don't wear them and there are times when it might not seem necessary, but given that everything in the lab is going to be contaminated to some extent I think it's better to glove-up. I've seen people who don't bother with gloves with TLC dip stains on their skin, and badly cracked and dry skin from continuous exposure to solvents. Not nice, and when you see hands like that you know they've been spreading it all over the place.

As far as contamination goes, I will change my gloves and wash my hands immediately if I spill something on them, with the exception of water and small quantities of solvents that don't degrade the glove (DCM gives me a burning sensation too). This means I'm not spreading things around the lab; the glove is just an extra, albeit thin, layer of protection.
For really nasty stuff like conc. sulfuric or liquid bromine I put on some marigolds, but always nitrile gloves minimum.

The only time I take the gloves off in the lab is if I have problems with static when weighing out samples. This can be extremely annoying, especially if that 10 mg that just flew across the balance was all you had, and your synthesis is 15 steps in. So I occasionally go commando at the balance, but otherwise gloves on.

Oh, someone mentioned cracked skin, I started getting bouts of very dry knuckles after about 2 or 3 years in the lab. It's probably the soap - get soap with added moisturiser, or just moisturise your hands at the end of the day and it'll go away.
 
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Offline Brilla

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Re: Protecting hands from MeOH & DCM?
« Reply #22 on: December 05, 2009, 09:41:23 PM »
Thanks for all the comments, they've been really useful to me! And Orgopete, I did not mind your using the word chemophobe - I asked for clarification because I've encountered comments (IRL) that suggest it's not OK to be "scared" of the chemicals (at least scared enough to be wearing gloves all the time). So, it's a sentiment I've heard before, in situations where I didn't think I was actually being too scared, and I was just wondering if this a referral to a "two separate schools of thought" kind of thing rather than a comment directed specifically to me. And it seems to be, so thank you for the clarification! I'm sure there are people in both groups doing things as safely as they can, for themselves and for others. I'm trying to learn from both!

My mother studied chemistry in the university back in the 60's, and she's told me some rather grim stories about the safety procedures back then (or the lack thereof)...

I was also appalled to hear of people walking outside the lab with their lab gloves on. My idea of lab glove usage is to have the same pair of gloves on until I get DCM on them, or until I leave the lab, for whatever reason. I wouldn't think of not removing the gloves when I leave the lab! Throughout my normal day in the lab, I might not get DCM on my gloves more than maybe once or twice, so I think I might well go 4 hours without changing my gloves. However, I normally don't get anything else on my hands / gloves than the solvents (because of using the spatulas etc.).

Oh, someone mentioned cracked skin, I started getting bouts of very dry knuckles after about 2 or 3 years in the lab. It's probably the soap - get soap with added moisturiser, or just moisturise your hands at the end of the day and it'll go away.
 

I have dry skin to begin with, so I moisturize at the end of the day (usually several times), but obsessive hand-washing throughout the day still gives me cracked skin. Skin prone to dryness doesn't seem to be very compatible with working in chemistry lab... Hope the glove use will be able to help with that. (We also have swine flu going around the lab, so at the moment I wash my hands a lot even outside the laboratory room itself, which doesn't help.)

Offline nj_bartel

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Re: Protecting hands from MeOH & DCM?
« Reply #23 on: December 05, 2009, 11:01:05 PM »
Everyone talks about DCM  burning - I've never had this feeling.  Is it pretty intense?  All I get is the cool feeling of the solvent evaporating.

Offline baboom

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Re: Protecting hands from MeOH & DCM?
« Reply #24 on: December 06, 2009, 12:11:28 AM »
I think that a proper chemist should be cautious of chemicals. The ones that are willing to take a risk won't be chemists for long!
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Offline Brilla

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Re: Protecting hands from MeOH & DCM?
« Reply #25 on: December 06, 2009, 07:16:13 AM »
All I get is the cool feeling of the solvent evaporating.

That's all I feel, too. Definitely no burning. And that's funny, because my skin is dry, so usually it gets irritated rather easily.

Offline azmanam

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Re: Protecting hands from MeOH & DCM?
« Reply #26 on: December 08, 2009, 06:37:36 AM »
Everyone should glance through the incidents on this page:

http://www2.umdnj.edu/eohssweb/aiha/accidents/explosion.htm

Also, everyone should wear gloves/goggles when working with chemicals.  especially if you are unaware of the actual safety hazards of a compound.  Ignorance is no excuse for carelessness.  You can't make other people be safe, but you can and must protect yourself.
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