Monday, June 13, 2011

Other people do this...

I just finally got around to finishing the process not too many months ago. Labeling secondary containers thoroughly, that is. I've talked about properly labeling and storing chemicals here, here, and here, and while I don't think this will be my last post about this topic that I take pretty damn seriously, I might have said enough to last us all awhile. Unless of course, you still aren't storing and labeling your chemicals properly, then I need to keep bitching. Tomorrow's post will be about why this topic makes me so bitchy. At any rate, here we are, with today's topic, the big reveal!!! In addition to the color-coding system that I've expanded from the Sanders lab at Michigan, I've added a printed label to clearly explain what the material is, adopted from at least the Yale Peabody Museum and probably others. Why this redundancy? Well, Marilyn Fox left a bottle of Paraloid B-72 in my truck in the Chinle last year because she didn't want to take it on a plane, wisely, and looking at its neatly typed informative label had been making me feel guilty all year (yes, that means it has been in my cup holder in the center console since this time last year.)  But you want the real recap? So, color-coding creates instant recognition that these are all distinct materials, just because they are all clear liquids they should not be assumed to have the same properties or chemical structures. Secondly, this system makes it easier for new folks in the lab to remember what kind of materials they were using, kinda like flash cards. Third, the electrical tape used for labeling is very resistant to mild spills of solvent, unlike the Sharpie marker that all the bottles were initially marked with. For a period of time (until I got to it), the colored tape was used as a back-up to the Sharpie. Since handwriting is so inconsistent, and the marker was so frequently and inevitably smeared and not rewritten, and also usually incompletely labeled, I switched over to printed labels completely covered over with packing tape, a procedure which is also resistant to normal amounts of solvent spill. The label also provides a safety option for any colorblind lab workers. After all of this, I think it is highly unlikely that Environmental Health and Safety will have a problem with our storage and labeling. I'm just glad they never found last week's coffee can of kerosene.

Yes, yes, I know. This image is shit for resolution, but you get the idea.

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