Worst thing you've seen in a lab

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TychoMaudd
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Re: Worst thing you've seen in a lab

Postby TychoMaudd » Mon Jun 25, 2012 11:15 am UTC

Jorpho wrote:
TychoMaudd wrote:
Jorpho wrote:
TychoMaudd wrote:We've got Pt crucibles no bigger than a thimble that cost over $1000 each.
A whole crucible? What do you do with them?
They generally get used for USP/NF ID test for silicon dioxide. It involves heating the sample and potassium carbonate in a Pt crucible until they melt together, then adding in 2 mL of a colorimetric test reagent once it cools. Seeing how expensive they are, we get the smallest ones that are suitable. A larger, more normal sized crucible would be upwards of $5000.
So is the Pt used for its high melting temperature or something? Normally I would associate its use with some sort of catalysis.

TychoMaudd wrote:Thankfully at least some of the students knew what to do and how to use a fire extinguisher.
A fire extinguisher can be just as bad when it comes to flammable metals, depending on the extinguisher. A special Class D unit is sometimes called for.


I assume it's because of the melting point, the fact it doesn't oxidize easily and it's high heat conductance but low heat capacity (it'll be heated up to the point that it'll glow red/orange, but cool off to room temp in about a min or two). In any case, the test specifically calls for Pt, so that is what needs to be used in order to conform to USP standards.

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Re: Worst thing you've seen in a lab

Postby Jorpho » Mon Jun 25, 2012 2:43 pm UTC

Heh. Maybe the USP is in cahoots with the Pt crucible makers!

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Re: Worst thing you've seen in a lab

Postby Arlick » Mon Jul 02, 2012 8:04 am UTC

The worst thing I've seen is some idiot put a piece of dissected rat intestine (or liver, can't remember) into the air duct. Then there was the guy playing with the gas tap... all I can say is, phiols are my friend. Managed to get him banned from all lab rooms XD.

The worst thing I've had happen to me was putting my hands on one of the experiment benches, only to end up with a slight burning sensation. I spent most of the lesson running my hands under water, which was a pity because we were dissecting sheep brains. Needless to say, I hate it when people aren't thorough when cleaning up after using corrosive stuff.
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Re: Worst thing you've seen in a lab

Postby ElWanderer » Mon Jul 02, 2012 10:40 am UTC

This one is quite tame compared to the rest of the thread. One of my friends was heating something with a bunsen burner in a chemistry lesson. As was occasionally done, he didn't have the bunsen sat on the desk but was holding it up to direct the flame back and forth. He was doing this rather casually, one-handed and was holding the burner by the rubber gas supply tube, possibly because the burner itself was hot. All of a sudden, the burner worked itself loose and fell away from the rubber tube, pirouetting as it went. Though the burner went out, it stayed lit long enough to light the gas flowing out of the rubber tube... which then became a veritable flamethrower. It seems bunsen burners have quite a controlling effect on the gas flow - without it the uncontrolled flame was much longer and much more spread out. Cue a lot of swearing and trying to work out where to point the flame whilst scrabbling for the gas tap. The scariest part was that I don't think the teacher noticed...

Apparently when people were dissecting chicken feet in a biology lesson, the done thing was to tap people on the shoulder with them by working the tendons manually, but (un)fortunately I missed that lesson through illness!
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Re: Worst thing you've seen in a lab

Postby MichiK » Fri Jul 06, 2012 12:03 am UTC

Arlick wrote:Needless to say, I hate it when people aren't thorough when cleaning up after using corrosive stuff.

That reminds me of the precision scale in our chemistry lab. Nobody cleans up after themselves so you always have some funny white powder or crystals flying around everywhere and no idea of what from our quite large collection it is and how it reacts with the other funny stuff directly next to it or (even worse) with water when somebody finally tries to clean up that mess...

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Re: Worst thing you've seen in a lab

Postby Mike Rosoft » Sat Jul 07, 2012 8:30 am UTC

In primary school, my physics teacher tried to measure the melting point of sugar. The thermometer went like 80°C - 120°C - 160°C - and then the tip of the thermometer melted off. (He then commented that we had observed a phase transition from the solid phase to the smelly phase.)

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Re: Worst thing you've seen in a lab

Postby TychoMaudd » Sat Jul 07, 2012 1:49 pm UTC

Mike Rosoft wrote:In primary school, my physics teacher tried to measure the melting point of sugar. The thermometer went like 80°C - 120°C - 160°C - and then the tip of the thermometer melted off. (He then commented that we had observed a phase transition from the solid phase to the smelly phase.)


What kind of thermometer was he using that would melt at such a low temperature? And did he realize that sugar doesn't really melt well? It decomposes into caramel when it does.

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Re: Worst thing you've seen in a lab

Postby Charlie! » Sat Jul 07, 2012 7:32 pm UTC

TychoMaudd wrote:
Mike Rosoft wrote:In primary school, my physics teacher tried to measure the melting point of sugar. The thermometer went like 80°C - 120°C - 160°C - and then the tip of the thermometer melted off. (He then commented that we had observed a phase transition from the solid phase to the smelly phase.)


What kind of thermometer was he using that would melt at such a low temperature? And did he realize that sugar doesn't really melt well? It decomposes into caramel when it does.

Sugar does melt - the trouble is more that sugar has sucked up a lot of water in its normal form - so it actually goes liquid pretty easily, but then it boils off a lot of water. So when the temperature jumps (like from 120 C to 160 C), that means you've finished boiling of the water, and need to cool down if you want to find out the melting point of pure sugar.
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Re: Worst thing you've seen in a lab

Postby TychoMaudd » Sun Jul 08, 2012 1:03 am UTC

Charlie! wrote:]
Sugar does melt - the trouble is more that sugar has sucked up a lot of water in its normal form - so it actually goes liquid pretty easily, but then it boils off a lot of water. So when the temperature jumps (like from 120 C to 160 C), that means you've finished boiling of the water, and need to cool down if you want to find out the melting point of pure sugar.


That reminds me of when I was making anhydrous sodium acetate from the trihydrate. You'd heat it up and it'd melt and start bubbling as the water boiled off then re-solidified (while still being heated) once the water was gone since the melting point went up, before melting again. But for sugar, it decomposes around 160C which is when the anhydrous form melts.

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Re: Worst thing you've seen in a lab

Postby J Thomas » Sat Jul 21, 2012 5:15 am UTC

My first-year roommate was doing a lab rotation where he used nitrosoguanidine. One of the lab techs told me he was so sloppy he left it scattered on the scale and the lab tech had had to clean it up. He was not happy and said I should not be spending any time around that guy, particularly not sharing a kitchen. After 6 months we found new living arrangements. Nine years later I got a tumor. I didn't hear what happened to him. After he got his degree he got an MD and I lost track of him.
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Re: Worst thing you've seen in a lab

Postby thorgold » Wed Jul 25, 2012 4:46 am UTC

epigrad wrote:Minced embryonic chicks.

"Worst" not "Most dangerous".

You made scrambled eggs? *Ba dum tsh*

Worst has to be the day someone put hydrochloric acid in an unlabeled, plastic water bottle as a "joke" (the "what he thought was H2O was H2SO4" rhyme).
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Re: Worst thing you've seen in a lab

Postby Jorpho » Wed Jul 25, 2012 1:17 pm UTC

thorgold wrote:Worst has to be the day someone put hydrochloric acid in an unlabeled, plastic water bottle as a "joke" (the "what he thought was H2O was H2SO4" rhyme).
Holy cow. What happened? That would be worthy of expulsion in some circles, I think.

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Re: Worst thing you've seen in a lab

Postby ahammel » Thu Jul 26, 2012 5:07 pm UTC

Jorpho wrote:
thorgold wrote:Worst has to be the day someone put hydrochloric acid in an unlabeled, plastic water bottle as a "joke" (the "what he thought was H2O was H2SO4" rhyme).
Holy cow. What happened? That would be worthy of expulsion in some circles, I think.

I could see that leading to criminal prossecution in some circles.
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Re: Worst thing you've seen in a lab

Postby alexh123456789 » Mon Aug 13, 2012 9:32 pm UTC

ahammel wrote:
Jorpho wrote:
thorgold wrote:Worst has to be the day someone put hydrochloric acid in an unlabeled, plastic water bottle as a "joke" (the "what he thought was H2O was H2SO4" rhyme).
Holy cow. What happened? That would be worthy of expulsion in some circles, I think.

I could see that leading to criminal prossecution in some circles.


Well, it could be something like .0001M HCl, in which case it'd be pretty harmless. Still a massive safety violation and a pretty terrible idea (bottle could be mislabeled, could be contaminated) that probably warrants expulsion.

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Re: Worst thing you've seen in a lab

Postby PM 2Ring » Tue Aug 14, 2012 3:32 am UTC

alexh123456789 wrote:Well, it could be something like .0001M HCl, in which case it'd be pretty harmless. Still a massive safety violation and a pretty terrible idea (bottle could be mislabeled, could be contaminated) that probably warrants expulsion.


Considering that lemon juice has a pH around 2.5 you could safely drink HCl at a much higher concentration than 0.0001M; I know I have. :)

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Re: Worst thing you've seen in a lab

Postby meat.paste » Mon Aug 20, 2012 4:16 am UTC

PM 2Ring wrote:Considering that lemon juice has a pH around 2.5 you could safely drink HCl at a much higher concentration than 0.0001M; I know I have. :)


I know I've certainly had higher concentrations of HCl exiting my stomach through my mouth. I will NEVER drink gin again :(
Huh? What?

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Re: Worst thing you've seen in a lab

Postby supramal » Tue Aug 21, 2012 3:08 am UTC

Forgetting to turn off a boiling water bath. The water had boiled all away and the metal was glowing red hot...

Luckily, no one was hurt and there was no lasting damage.

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Re: Worst thing you've seen in a lab

Postby Suzaku » Tue Aug 21, 2012 8:42 am UTC

I used to be a member of a couple of choirs while I was at high school, so I had very good lung capacity and breath control.
One of our breath control excercises was to take a good, deep breath and exhale slowly through very slightly parted lips. I could keep this up for well over a minute without breaking to breath in.

This makes a sound almost indistinguishable from the sound made by an open gas tap of the kind used for Bunsen burners in our school science lab :twisted:

I had pretty much the whole class searching for the leak before the teacher realised it was me.
Needless to say I was ejected from the class and had to apologise to the teacher, but I still think it was worth it.
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Re: Worst thing you've seen in a lab

Postby Pingouin7 » Sat Aug 25, 2012 9:20 pm UTC

Suzaku wrote:I used to be a member of a couple of choirs while I was at high school, so I had very good lung capacity and breath control.
One of our breath control excercises was to take a good, deep breath and exhale slowly through very slightly parted lips. I could keep this up for well over a minute without breaking to breath in.

This makes a sound almost indistinguishable from the sound made by an open gas tap of the kind used for Bunsen burners in our school science lab :twisted:

I had pretty much the whole class searching for the leak before the teacher realised it was me.
Needless to say I was ejected from the class and had to apologise to the teacher, but I still think it was worth it.

That's awesome.
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Re: Worst thing you've seen in a lab

Postby Minerva » Sun Aug 26, 2012 11:29 am UTC

Jorpho wrote:Heh. Maybe the USP is in cahoots with the Pt crucible makers!


Oh noes, it's a Big Pharmacopoeia conspiracy!
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Re: Worst thing you've seen in a lab

Postby MichiK » Mon Aug 27, 2012 6:22 pm UTC

When I came into the lab today, I found this on the table (and nobody around who might perhaps still want to use it):

Image

While this is clearly (by far...) not the worst thing I have ever seen in a lab, I really don't like what I'm seeing there. After all, the biohazard warning signs on the door of that lab are there for a reason and needlestick injuries are really easy to avoid (e.g. by throwing that needle into the disposal container just a few inches away).

Quick reality check: Am I overreacting or is it perfectly reasonable to strongly dislike things like this?

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Re: Worst thing you've seen in a lab

Postby Moose Anus » Mon Aug 27, 2012 6:53 pm UTC

In high school we had little pads made from metal mesh to put beakers on over bunsen burners. The metal mesh was coated with asbestos (it was a small, poor school). Yes, we all knew that asbestos was a very bad, cancer causing thing. Except one of the kids kept punching out the asbestos with his pencil and breathing in the asbestos dust because it, "smells good." I'm not sure if he's dead yet.
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Re: Worst thing you've seen in a lab

Postby ConMan » Mon Aug 27, 2012 10:24 pm UTC

MichiK wrote:Quick reality check: Am I overreacting or is it perfectly reasonable to strongly dislike things like this?

Apparently used needle left on a bench in an empty room that is well equipped with needle disposal bins, that you have no idea what it contains or how contaminated it might be? Pretty hard to say you're overreacting here.
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Re: Worst thing you've seen in a lab

Postby ahammel » Mon Aug 27, 2012 10:37 pm UTC

MichiK wrote:Quick reality check: Am I overreacting or is it perfectly reasonable to strongly dislike things like this?
Your reaction sounds about in line with my reaction when somebody leaves the lid off the gel tank1. Improperly-disposed-of needles in a biohaz lab would rate a lot of yelling from me.

1. Note to non-molecular biologists: this is merely irritating and not in the least dangerous.
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Re: Worst thing you've seen in a lab

Postby LaSargenta » Mon Sep 24, 2012 7:00 pm UTC

You guys make me very glad to be getting out into the open air occasionally for my job.

Undergraduate structural concrete class lab: We ran a series of compression tests on concrete cylinders (US standards, 4" x 8"). One student cluster (aka 'team') couldn't be bothered to make their cylinders level on top and bottom -- because, hey, we're studying engineering, not technology -- and applied the load. The testing machines were open on all sides, no frag guards, and they did complete the assignment as they tested to failure; however, there was a lot of shrapnel, also called flyrock...except that word is generally used w.r.t. quarry blasting. Fortunately, the people closest to that machine were wearing safety goggles.

Mind you, I work in heavy construction and have seen many 'worst' things. In tunnelling, we say we lose a man a mile.


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Re: Worst thing you've seen in a lab

Postby oxoiron » Mon Sep 24, 2012 10:09 pm UTC

LaSargenta wrote:In tunnelling, we say we lose a man a mile.
That's depressing. Do you know the actual statistics?
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Re: Worst thing you've seen in a lab

Postby LaSargenta » Tue Sep 25, 2012 2:08 pm UTC

oxoiron wrote:Do you know the actual statistics?
OSHA page w/ links to stats is here: http://www.osha.gov/oshstats/work.html But, the way they are organized we can't quickly tease out which happened in tunnels (not all tunnel workers are "sand hogs", there are also electricians, concrete workers, plumbers, etc.). I do know that this phrase is repeated by ex-OSHA people who are now safety consultants at the annual 8-hour HAZWOPER refresher course I attend.

From personal anecdotes, I can tell you that on the one tunnelling job I was on from start to finish (not something that happens frequently or to many people...I was on there from the initial drilling for samples to determine the subsurface profile all the way (Edited to add: and in the office on design, but we didn't lose anyone then except to bureaucratic frustration) to tiles being put on the walls in the station), it was 0.4 miles long and one man was injured on the job so that he is now paralyzed from the neck down and one man died of a heart attack at home over a weekend.

Yes, it is depressing. Read this http://www.osha.gov/dep/fatcat/fatcat_w ... 42012.html and see how banal reported workplace injuries are. They are much better now than they were forty years ago, though. We can count OSHA's birthday from December 29th (1970) when Nixon signed the act, or April 28th (1971) when the office was established. Underfunded and understaffed though it is, it has made a difference.

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Re: Worst thing you've seen in a lab

Postby LaSargenta » Fri Oct 05, 2012 1:48 pm UTC

oxoiron wrote:That's depressing. Do you know the actual statistics?

Update: Still no good stats, but here's a link to an article about another tunnel construction-related fatality. http://www.nytimes.com/2012/10/05/nyreg ... .html?_r=2

Sorry, guys, for the construction stuff, but, this is my "lab".

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Re: Worst thing you've seen in a lab

Postby Daggoth » Fri Oct 12, 2012 5:42 am UTC

No need to apologize bro feel free to share anything u want

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Re: Worst thing you've seen in a lab

Postby Frussellthelovemuscle » Wed Oct 17, 2012 10:52 pm UTC

well one day we were burning Mg ribbons for class and some idiot decide to grab the whole roll and light it under his book surprise surprise the book went up in flames with a bright white light that half the class had sore eyes for about 2 hours, the book happened to be next to three more and curtain the fire department were called and the idiot was expelled

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Re: Worst thing you've seen in a lab

Postby emercaughfield » Thu Dec 13, 2012 10:46 am UTC

I also remember one of my incident in chemistry lab. I was doing an experiment in which i want a fix amount of a chemical(sry name i did't remember). I have to pipette it out and that time we are having manual pipettes where chemicals have to suck from mouth. I was new to lab and did't know how to use pipette. So i starting sucking chemical and suddenly i did't know what happened, i suck the whole in my mouth. That tastes yuckkkkkk.......:(

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Re: Worst thing you've seen in a lab

Postby Jorpho » Fri Dec 14, 2012 3:43 am UTC

emercaughfield wrote:I was new to lab and did't know how to use pipette.
Good $deity. Did no one try to show you, or were you just not paying attention?

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Re: Worst thing you've seen in a lab

Postby screen317 » Fri Dec 14, 2012 5:21 pm UTC

Any lab where mouth pipetting is still commonplace needs to just go away... I can't even imagine having to do that. At least use the rubber bulb-thingies.

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Re: Worst thing you've seen in a lab

Postby Izawwlgood » Fri Dec 14, 2012 7:02 pm UTC

So, wait, you didn't know the chemical, AND you were mouth pipetting? It sounds like A ) the lab is all kinds of shitty and B ) you shouldn't be working in a lab space.
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Re: Worst thing you've seen in a lab

Postby Dr. Diaphanous » Tue Dec 18, 2012 10:06 pm UTC

I have only ever heard of moth pipetting as part of the phrase "No mouth pipetting". Why is it still done, in this futuristic age of rubber bulbs and pipettors?
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Re: Worst thing you've seen in a lab

Postby MHD » Tue Dec 18, 2012 11:18 pm UTC

I once accidentally wired the Vcc and the Vdd to the opposite of what they are supposed to be on a 16 pin inverting buffer (CMOS). It blew up. Almost in my face.

Always read the manual.
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Re: Worst thing you've seen in a lab

Postby nehpest » Wed Dec 19, 2012 5:55 am UTC

I think I may've posted this before, but it's relevant here...

In AP Chemistry godawfulmany years ago, we had team projects for the end of the year. One team was working in the inner lab while the rest of the class was being lectured in the main classroom; the young lady in question was preparing powdered metals (aluminum, iron, and perhaps magnesium?) by means of mortar and pestle. She apparently decided that it would be faster to do it once rather than do it three times (once for each metal) and so she was churning blithely away at a ceramic dish filled with powdered metal... until there was a loud CRACK, a shriek, and the sound of shattering ceramic. Cue the instructor dashing into the lab to find that her mixture had explosively combusted, spraying tiny shards of red-hot metal dust all over her forearms and face. She spent the rest of that week out of school, recovering from her burns, and returned to school the following Monday looking like she'd been hit with a shotgun at extreme range.

Protip: don't do that.
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Re: Worst thing you've seen in a lab

Postby PM 2Ring » Wed Dec 19, 2012 10:34 am UTC

Dr. Diaphanous wrote:I have only ever heard of moth pipetting as part of the phrase "No mouth pipetting". Why is it still done, in this futuristic age of rubber bulbs and pipettors?


It's a mystery! I thought it was archaic several decades ago when I was in high school. The worst thing I ever got in my mouth while pipetting was a very dilute aqueous solution of various metal salts, including nickel & copper sulfates, potassium dichromate, and potassium ferricyanide. That last one sounds impressive, but it's probably the least toxic of the lot. :) (After all, cyanide's scary mostly cause it binds to the Fe in haemoglobin, and ferricyanide's already thusly bound).


nehpest wrote:the young lady in question was preparing powdered metals (aluminum, iron, and perhaps magnesium?) by means of mortar and pestle. She apparently decided that it would be faster to do it once rather than do it three times.


Uh-oh! Always prepare your ingredients separately, as any DIY explosives person knows. :)

Anyone playing with powdered Al ought to know about the Thermite family of reactions, especially if they intend mixing the Al with other metals. If the metals (and equipment) were totally pure I wouldn't expect a reaction, but it doesn't take long for iron to oxidize, especially when moisture is present and you're encouraging it by maximizing the exposed surface and adding energy.

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Re: Worst thing you've seen in a lab

Postby Jorpho » Wed Dec 19, 2012 2:02 pm UTC

There was one occasion when I was working with some funky industrial chemicals that were dispensed by a pump, and a drop of it somehow managed to spray out and just happened to land in my mouth. I proceeded to rinse thoroughly and nothing ever came of it. I can't recall exactly what it was anymore, but I think a drop of the same stuff later caused a nasty rash on my wrist. (That was a really, really unpleasant place to work.)

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Re: Worst thing you've seen in a lab

Postby screen317 » Wed Dec 19, 2012 8:51 pm UTC

Jorpho wrote:There was one occasion when I was working with some funky industrial chemicals that were dispensed by a pump, and a drop of it somehow managed to spray out and just happened to land in my mouth. I proceeded to rinse thoroughly and nothing ever came of it. I can't recall exactly what it was anymore, but I think a drop of the same stuff later caused a nasty rash on my wrist. (That was a really, really unpleasant place to work.)
Note to self: don't open mouth when pouring chemicals.


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