Lessons Learned: Chemical Burns

Lab coats protect your skin and clothes from laboratory contamination such as splashes and spills. The lab coat can be easily removed and reduce your exposure to laboratory contamination.

Additionally, when wearing synthetic fabrics (polyester, nylon, acrylic, etc.), the fabric can ignite after a chemical splash, causing the material to melt and cling onto your skin. This can cause potentially fatal burns. The severity of a chemical burn can be reduced by wearing cotton materials such as your lab coat.

The link below shows a video where a researcher describes her experience following a severe chemical burn when working with trifluoroacetic acid. She was not wearing her lab coat and required a skin graft as a result. Always remember to wear your lab coat.

If you have a splash or spill, immediately remove the contaminated clothing, go to the nearest sink or safety shower, and flush the site with copious amounts of water. For minor splashes, flush the area with tepid water for 15 minutes and gently wash the affected area. Scrubbing will aggravate the skin. For major accidents, go to nearest safety shower and pull the cord. Contact EHSO for information about clean-up after using the shower. As always, report any incidents through PeopleSoft.

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