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Good Habits Save Money And Lives January 11, 2008

Posted by Mrs Weird Scientist in Easy As Pie, Human Body, Psychology and Behavior, Science and Politics.
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I remember science classes when I was in high school. My teacher was always really stern and sharp about safety. Most of the time, we were doing simplistic experiments and rarely did we work with any chemicals or techniques that were blatantly dangerous. Back then, I would think in my rebellious way that the teacher was being overbearing and fussy over nothing.

Wow, was I ever wrong though!

Careful, Careful

I recently heard some news that got me thinking about how important good habits are – whether you’re in middle or high school, university or working professionally in the field. The University of California was fined $450,000 U.S. dollars by federal authorities for the improper handling of anthrax after they received the shipment from Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory. Anthrax is a disease caused by the bacterium Bacillus anthracis – it occurs in humans and animals. In fact, in some forms it can be lethal.

Laboratory-1 It was during this recent shipment that vials of anthrax leaked although no resulting illness was reported. The fine itself was imposed by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and was the largest of 11 imposed since 2003 for violations of federal rules for designated agents. Why special rules? It’s because some agents have potential use as dangerous weapons, which means the government implements regulations to protect the public and ensure proper use for research or similar purposes.

Let’s Get Back To School Labs

One thing I’ve concluded is that learning how to have good habits is best done when you’re in safer conditions. It’s during this learning process that a lot of mistakes and accidents might happen. If you’re in middle or high school and working with stuff that’s obviously less hazardous than anthrax, it’s an ace time to get good habits under your trendy belt. This way, you’ll be set for basic, good safety skills if you decide to pursue one of the zillion cool careers out there in the science field. Plus, each laboratory and workplace always has its own set of safety rules (and boy oh boy, some of them are long!). It definitely helps if you’re a wizard already when it comes to lab safety, which means you can keep adding in new safety smarts as you go along.

Would good habits have made a difference in the anthrax leak? I really believe they would! Although there haven’t been many details released about the case, a leak does imply that the anthrax wasn’t securely contained or that some outside influence affected its enclosure. Either way, it’s fortunate that the University of California only has a whopping fine to pay. Lives could have been lost.

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