From:Beckers <msadk@NYCAP.rr.com>

I always find it amazing when safety becomes an issue in the lab-it usually
sparks a healthy debate about who's values are more accurate, etc.  I am
referring to the comments made about Carnoy's Fixative.  I agree we should
do the best we can to protect ourselves from biohazards-thus we use
PPE-gloves, fume hoods, lab coats or aprons, hand washing and common
sense-don't smell the chemicals!  But at the same time we may find ourselves
compromising the quality of slides for diagnosis and that is important for
the physicians we serve and the patient's we are trying to help.  What to
do?  I think if a good alternative can't be found and it is allowed in the
place we work the solvents and or fixatives of choice should be used but
sparingly-only when that is what is in the best interests of the patient and
their lab results and used with precautions we all have learned.  Isn't that
a good compromise?  Some substitutes are wonderful-I work with xylene
substitute as a clearing agent and I still have a fume hood over all
solvents and quality is not compromised-but if it were I would be the first
to complain to my boss that I can't produce the best slides and maybe we
should reconsider the risks.  It would be his call then.For years I worked
with B5 fixative at local hospital lab and never felt threatened by it's
presence and followed all precautions including proper disposal techniques.
I know the bone marrow and lymph node specimens were much better prepared
for the patients than without it. I did not panic because mercury was in a
container on the counter that I had to open and transfer the bx from-I used
proper precautions and after I was done workig I washed my hands well and
disposed of my lab apron, gloves, mask, etc.  My point is we can work with
certain hazardous substances and still remain healthy and provide for our
patients.  But also remember if we can substitute something less toxic by
all mean do so!
From a concerned fellow histotechnologist who's been there, done that-relax
guys and enjoy the field you are blessed to be in and be safe!

Sue Becker, HTL

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