MILFORD, Conn., Sept. 12, 2019 /PRNewswire/ -- College enrollment in STEM programs continues to rise. According to the National Science Foundation, in 2016, nearly half of all college freshman (45 percent) indicated they planned to major in a Science and Engineering field, up from 33 percent in 2000, with the majority of the increase in biological and agricultural sciences, and in engineering. That means more students every year are spending significant time in college and university laboratories, conducting tests and handling chemicals. However, some college and university laboratories are still relying on antiquated methods when teaching students how to properly handle those chemicals.
The Risks of Using Outdated Methods
Students in the laboratory often need to transfer potentially hazardous chemicals — such as solvents, acetones, lubricants, cleansers, and acids — from containers into smaller beakers, Erlenmeyer flasks and containers. The transfer of chemicals has the potential for serious consequences when students use a manual "tip-and-pour" technique. Tipping and pouring from a large, heavy containers into a smaller container can lead to overpouring and chemical spills, exposing students to severe hazards, such as accidental chemical contact and breathing in dangerous vapors. In addition to the potential for student injury, colleges and universities may also have significant financial consequences from improper chemical handling, which include cleanup costs, OSHA fines, and the cost of wasting expensive chemicals.
Risks in a laboratory can also exist when the chemical may not even be in use. Large containers stored on their sides can be hazardous as they are more prone to slow leaks, which can happen without anyone taking notice.
Federal, State and Local Safety Regulations
Universities must have stringent safety guidelines in place to help keep students safe. There are also several federal, state, and local regulations that higher education laboratories must follow. OSHA, for example, has developed a list of laboratory standards, including the Occupational Exposure to Hazardous Chemicals in Laboratories standard, which was created specifically for non-production laboratories, and additional standards that protect workers in laboratories from chemical hazards.
The CDC also has a laboratory safety guide specifically for schools, which includes rules for both instructors and students, proper handling and storage of chemicals, and strategies to reduce the amount of waste in a laboratory. Generally practiced safety rules also include wearing proper laboratory clothing, such as aprons, safety glasses, and gloves when handling chemicals, and using the proper equipment when mixing and transferring chemicals.
Best Practices for University Labs
Laboratory safety is critical in protecting students and faculty. Laboratory guidelines and best practices should be established and followed by all university laboratories.
- Educate students on the proper handling of chemicals and equipment
- Give relevant training and education for lab staff responsible for helping to keep students safe
- Identify safety procedures and communicate them to students in the event of an accident
- Notify the appropriate people of hazardous or possibly hazardous conditions
- Be sure all chemicals are stored, handled and disposed of properly, according to the label and Safety Data Sheet.
- Use tools and equipment that reduce unnecessary exposure to chemicals
- Periodically test equipment to ensure it is functioning properly
- Make sure students always wear the appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE) for the test being conducted and chemical being used.
Laboratory Safety Solution: Transfer Chemicals with GoatThroat Pumps
A global industry leader, GoatThroat Pumps has established its reputation for making quality sealed and closed-system equipment that help laboratories eliminate spills, meet compliance requirements and keep faculty and students safe.
The off-the-shelf pumps are easy and intuitive to use in a college lab setting. Functioning like a beer tap for chemicals, the design of the pumps ensures students and lab workers are able to maintain absolute control when managing, storing and decanting chemicals. Using a GoatThroat pump to transfer chemicals from drums is efficient and adds more precision to a lab environment and reduces unnecessary exposure to the liquids. In fact, one New England University had the entire chemistry building evacuated three times in a month due to a graduate student over pouring acetone from a 5-gallon container onto the floor. After installing GoatThroat pumps, that problem never occurred again.
GoatThroat pumps are safe for use with more than 1,700 liquids, including the most expensive chemicals used in university labs. Additionally, GoatThroat Pumps last for more than 10 years, so laboratories not only save by not wasting chemicals, but the amount of small plastic containers is dramatically reduced from ending up in landfills. This helps the universities meet their sustainability goals.
For more than two decades, GoatThroat Pumps has provided a simple cost effective solution to keeping college laboratories, students and teachers safe – so the focus remains on educating the future generation of inventors and innovators.
About GoatThroat Pumps
Based in Milford, CT, GoatThroat Pumps develops and manufactures high-quality chemical transfer equipment, with a focus on improving worker safety and global environmental compliance. GoatThroat's fluid friendly pumps are the safest, most reliable, and easiest way to accurately transfer any liquid. Off the shelf and custom configured pumps, fitting and accessories are fluid specific, meet compatibility requirements, and are designed to be turnkey solutions to fit transfer applications. Equipment categories include Chemical and Food Applications, Flammable Liquids, Agriculture, TRI Reporting and Pneumatic Systems.
SOURCE GoatThroat Pumps