Did you know that ultra-low temperature freezers consume as much electricity annually as a typical single-family home? Lower your lab’s carbon footprint and challenge your cold storage practices by taking part in the Freezer Challenge. Supported by the International Institute for Sustainable Laboratories (I2SL) and My Green Lab, this challenge is designed to promote best practices in cold storage management for laboratories around the world.
The annual competition operates from January to July and the top JHU winners will be awarded a cash prize. In addition, the overall winner of the international challenge will be featured in Nature magazine and awarded during the annual I2SL conference.
To learn more, please register for a virtual information session next Tuesday, January 18th, from 11:00 am to noon, or fill out this participation interest form.
To learn more about our other Green Labs initiatives, please visit: https://sustainability.jhu.edu/initiatives/green-laboratories/ or email [email protected].
The JHU Center for Health Education and Wellness and the Homewood Laboratory Safety Advocate are pleased to present a student wellness seminar on “Sleep and Mindfulness,” scheduled for January 25, 10:30-11:30 am on Zoom. Molly Hutchison of CHEW will be the presenter.
While these topics have direct relevance to lab safety, they apply to all students; it’s a health seminar, not a specifically “safety” seminar. Students from all STEM departments are invited to attend.
To register, use the following link:
Questions about the seminar can be directed to Dr. Daniel Kuespert, Laboratory Safety Advocate, at [email protected] or 410-516-5525
Although its use is declining, some of our laboratories still use elemental mercury metal. Two places mercury is commonly found are manometers and thermometers.
Mercury is quite toxic, volatile (it evaporates into the air where you can breathe it in), and can be difficult to clean up. University policy is that mercury should be eliminated from all possible applications.
Substitutes are available for almost all uses of mercury. For example, modern thermometers offer the same or better accuracy and precision as a mercury thermometer, using an alcohol-based fluid. A manometer can be traded out for a pressure transducer whose performance is probably superior to the old manometer. (Manometers really provide accuracies of only about 2%, according to the National Institute of Standards and Technology.)
If you have mercury in your lab, whether a vial of liquid metal, an old thermometer, or a manometer for pressure measurement, please contact Health, Safety & Environment at 410-516-8798 and ask for it to be removed. If you need assistance finding a suitable replacement instrument, please contact Dr. Dan Kuespert, Laboratory Safety Advocate, at [email protected] or 410-516-5525.
When purchasing potentially hazardous products, it is important to ensure that the device meets both your practical requirements and all necessary safety requirements. With the proliferation of lasers as tools and toys of everyday life, it is easy to forget that they present risks to users and others.
The Food and Drug Administration recently issued a consumer alert – Illuminating Facts About Laser Pointers, 13 June 2019. When using laser pointers, be sure to follow all recommended safety protocols, including (quoting the document):
- Never aim or shine a laser pointer at anyone.
- Don’t buy laser pointers for your children.
- Before purchasing a laser pointer, make sure it has the following information on the label:
- a statement that it complies with Chapter 21 CFR (the Code of Federal Regulations)
- the manufacturer or distributor’s name and the date of manufacture
- a warning to avoid exposure to laser radiation
- the class designation, ranging from Class I to IIIa. Class IIIb and IV products should be used only by individuals with proper training and in applications where there is a legitimate need for these high-powered products.
Your source for assistance in selecting and reviewing laser(s) is your Laser Safety Advocate, Niel Leon, [email protected].
PS: Laser pointers are often overpowered, as this 3 August 2016 blog post notes. Niel can test your laser pointer(s) or other laser-containing device(s) to ensure that it can be safely used here at JHU.
Do you leave experiments running after-hours or over the weekend? Are you ready in case an incident might occur? Establishing clear procedures for late or unattended work may help prevent a minor incident from becoming a serious one. See this article by Richard Paluzzi, a noted lab safety expert, for more detail.
The Laboratory Safety Advocates Office has developed an unattended experiment form that you should fill and post on the laboratory door and next to the experiment. If you have questions about filling out this form contact your PI, laboratory manager or the Laboratory Safety Advocates Office.
The Lab Safety Advocate’s office recently worked with a research group that uses a large shared lab. A new laser instrument (a Raman spectroscope) required all in the lab to use very dark laser protective goggles in an already-dark room; this would have interfered with operations. We established a very small Laser Controlled Area that confined the laser beam and provided a dark environment to the experiment instead of the lab, improving the experimental results and allowing other experiments to take place unimpeded simultaneously in the lab. This saved about $2,000 in laser protective eyewear costs.
Laser eye protection is normally rated using continuous-wave, narrow-bandwidth lasers. Nevertheless, some labs use pulsed lasers, which have wider bandwidths and higher peak powers; in the case of pico- and femtosecond pulses, this is taken to extremes.
Recent work at NIST and Hood College in Frederick, MD, has shown that much laser protective eyewear is not capable of withstanding fast laser pulses. (J. Laser Appl. 2017, DOI: 10.2351/1.5004090) 22 different pairs of eye protection were tested against a 40-80 fs pulsed laser, and more than half failed to perform as rated. All plastic protective lenses failed.
It is strongly recommended that when selecting laser protective eyewear, you test the eyewear against your particular use condition to ensure that they provide adequate protection. The Laser Safety Advocate, Niel Leon, is available to assist with testing of this sort.
Further information can be found in the cited paper and in this article in Chemical & Engineering News.
Join the Homewood Researcher Safety Committee at our 2017 Lab Safety Fair for free lab safety swag, coffee and food, and lab safety demonstrations in the Glass Pavilion on Wednesday, April 19th from 11 AM to 1 PM.
Join the Homewood Researcher Safety Committee for free lab safety swag, exciting lab safety demonstrations, and free food and coffee on Thursday, April 7th from 11 AM to 1 PM in the Hodson Hall lobby.
The deadline for nominating students for the 2016 Dean’s Safety Award has been extended to April 1, 2016. Recall that the award, which includes a $500 honorarium, is given to one student or student group in KSAS and WSE each for lab safety improvements that also improve science. See here for the original announcement of the award, and here for a sample application. Nominations must be made by the student’s principal investigator, academic adviser, or department chair.