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University of Michigan - Ann Arbor
CHEM 211
Gary Glick

Chemistry 211 Exposure Exposure… It is such an interesting word, and there are so many definitions and connotations that go along with it. Just to name a few: ex·po·sure n 1. the experience of coming into contact with some environmental condition or social influence that has an effect, either harmful or beneficial 2. the harmful effects of cold or other extreme weather conditions 3. reporting of events by the broadcast or print media 4. the revelation of a scandal or of somebody’s secrets or private information 5. an amount of light permitted to fall on light-sensitive material such as film or paper coated with emulsion Encarta® World English Dictionary © 1999 Microsoft Corporation. All rights reserved. Developed for Microsoft by Bloomsbury Publishing Plc. You are being exposed to chemistry every time you go to lecture or go to lab or read about chemistry. This is a good kind of exposure (hopefully). Unfortunately, everyday you are also exposed to germs like viruses and bacterial infections; keyboards and classmates and other things that you are in contact with everyday are obvious sources. For chemists working in the lab, exposure is a constant threat that needs to be minimized. If you are aware of the dangers, you can protect yourself, others, and even the environment. Laboratory contact with chemicals, glassware, and other equipment will expose you to certain things, and generally all foreign entities that come in contact with your body could be damaging. Our goal is to make you aware of the potential harm so that you can prevent this harm from happening to yourself and to others. There are four main routes of exposure in chemistry (and lots of other types) laboratories:  Physical Contact! (also called dermal absorption) – the main one! Your skin is the largest organ you have, and it is your body’s first defense as far as chemicals are concerned. Unfortunately, your skin surface area defines the area that needs to be defended, and it is not a small area. Also note that your eyes are part of this surface area, since they are open during the lab (or should be). Your fingers and hands are very vulnerable, since laboratories are filled with hands on work. Your feet are particularly vulnerable (especially the tops of your feet) because things fall down when they fall. Aprons, gloves, goggles (PPE) and wearing appropriate laboratory clothing (closed shoes, sleeves, longer pants) are the best ways to minimize exposure through contact. Save your epidermis! Clothes and shoes can be replaced. Inhalation In a lab with organic solvents, many things are volatile and easily move through the air. Those solvents smell – ethyl acetate, methylene chloride, hexane – they are all smelly. And you will smell like lab when you leave the lab. Volatile solvents evaporate quickly, which means that the solvents become gaseous and move into the air. You smell chemicals because the molecules move up your nose and hit recepto
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