Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Nickel Oxide

So, in lab yesterday I had to work with a particular type of Nickel Oxide, NiO2. Across the bottle it says: "Warning: May Cause Nose and Lung Cancer". I looked the stuff up, because I needed to find out some of its other properties and came across the fact that in addition to this it can suppress your immune system. Anyway, me being me, I got out my mask when I was handling it (the mask goes over your mouth and nose and is meant to keep some of the chemical out of your airways. I got it when I was handling the lead). A couple of other people in my lab asked what I was working with (people are always interested when you're wearing a mask), so I of course told them and this whole big discussion about it started. Most people thought I was being ridiculous and overly sensitive, but I kind of figured, Why not wear the mask? What harm is it doing?. Someone told me that if I was so worried about the Nickel Oxide I should take a look at the contents of my shampoo.

Anyway, that got me thinking about what a stupid idea that was. If there is bad stuff in my shampoo, that should make me even less enthusiastic to be exposed to it from other sources. It's like saying, I'm on a diet, I had a piece of cake at a friends birthday party so now I'm just going to scrap the whole diet idea.

The other thing that I continue to find stupid about this whole thing is that people will say things like "I've been working with the stuff for 3 years, and I'm fine.". With the vast majority of these chemicals I'm not worried about what it will do to me today, tomorrow, next month or in the next ten years. I'm worried about when I'm 50, 60, 70. Most of these things accumulate in your body and take time to disrupt your cellular functioning, so you wouldn't expect to see problems so quickly.

Anyway, end of rant!

1 comment:

  1. I think it's fair enough to be overly cautious, especially in a lab! The worst chemical accident I have ever seen was when I was 15; one of the idiots in my class stole a load of rubidium (after we'd had a demo of it's reaction with water), put it in his top blazer pocket (over his chest) and walked out into the rain. He suffered really bad burns, the absolute numb-skull!