Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Live from Pittsburgh!

Well over a year ago I wrote this post about the need for storing chemicals properly (safely, in the appropriate containers and well labeled) in the fossil preparation laboratory. Today's post covers some of the material I could just barely fit into my SVP talk in a truly fantastic preparation session yesterday.

When I arrived at VPL I went on a chemical rampage, replacing all of the secondary containers with Nalgene, and ensuring that all were labeled with complete information about the contents. I'll cite again here the NIOSH/CDC chemistry laboratory guidelines, rule one of which is "Never use food containers for chemical storage" in the section Proper Use of Chemical Storage Containers. My initial labeling consisted of writing on the bottle directly with a Sharpie marker, a system which has a flaw in that all of our solvent based resins will rapidly smear the writing when spilled or dripped. To address this I adopted the method in use by Bill Sander's at the University of Michigan, and others, whereby all bottles are identified by colored electrical tape according to an in-house lab specific color coding scheme. This system is posted on signs throughout the lab, and the redundancy of labeling in writing and marking with tape has thus far eliminated the problem that we had previously encountered where the University Environmental Health and Safety office would cite us for the bottle with a label that was smeary and hard to read. Another tremendous benefit to this system is that it reinforces the fact that the adhesives and consolidants in use are distinct chemicals. Users of adhesives in many paleo labs will blanketly refer to any clear liquid as "Butvar", "B-72", "PVA", "Vinac", etc, etc... typically based on the material that they were first introduced to. As can be seen from the VPL color coding key, we have two types of "Butvar" in active use in the laboratory, Butvar B-76 and Butvar B-98. These two compounds have very different practical uses and should not be considered interchangeable. A distinct and obvious system like color coding promotes recognition of these different materials.

[It is noted that there is a mistake in the color key, Acryloid B-72 is not labeled as being Green, the color that corresponds to it in lab labeling]

1 comment:

Mark Wildman said...

Nice article Matt - it's always the simplest ideas that are best. I'm glad your having a great time at SVP!