Using a particulate mask (surgical mask) is a bad idea. These don't
protect you from the fumes of processors. Worse yet you restrict your own
air flow and mildly aspxiate you.
Using a vapor respirator with the proper filter cartridge is probably a
good idea. You must make sure that the respirator is properly fitted and
that you are using the right filter. Formalin and xylene have different
filters so you will have to switch them in the middle of changing the
processor. If you don't have the respirator properly fitted it will not work
In addition to this, if you truly want to be this safe, you should make
sure that you are completely covered and can't spill the chemicals on
yourself too. It makes no sense to be obsessive about respiratory protection
while the xylene & formalin is being absorbed into your skin through the
splash that lands on your arm between the glove and your lab coat or the one
soaking through the fabric on your pants. (Hypothetical situation of course)
Honestly though as long as you aren't splashing the stuff around, or
aren't changing 5 processors in a row, I really don't think your exposure
will be very high. I have seen the statistics on many folks who were being
intentionally sloppy knowing they were being monitored and their exposure
was still minimal. I am sure someone will mention this to you so I only
wanted to make mention of it. If you really want to take these extra
precautions then I am totally behind you weather it is necessary or not it's
better to err on the side of caution.
----- Original Message -----
From: "Carol Chang"
Sent: Wednesday, February 27, 2002 2:45 PM
> Dear histoneters:
> Would you kindly tell me what kind of mask you use in histology lab? I
> normally don't wear mask. But when I need to change the reagents in tissue
> processor I prefer to have one. Now it seems critical for me since I plan
> to have a baby.
> Any help is greatly appreciated.
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