I've posted variations on this comment so many times that I'm sure
that many of you think I work for Anatech, but I have no connection
with them at all.
The Alcian dyes are textile dyes that were made in Germany by the
spiritual heirs of I.G. Farbenindustrie of Hitler time renown. Germany
finally concluded that there was no way to manufacture these dyes
without unacceptable environmental hazards, and banned their
manufacture. Alcian dyes have long since passed out of use in the
textile industry, but the methods for synthesizing these dyes have to
my knowledge never been published.
Alcian dyes are now made in India and China, using methods that have
never been disclosed.
Meanwhile Dick Dapson at Anatech devised synthetic pathways that were
safe for chemical workers and for the environment. His Alcian blue was
the equivalent of the original dye. Anatech sells Alcian blue to a
number of other suppliers. If I were responsible for purchasing, I
would insist on this environmentally safe product, but when your
purchasing decisions are made by high school graduates backed by bean
counters, you have no such authority.
The story with Alcian yellow was somewhat different. Dick Dapson
stated (I hope I'm quoting correctly) that he could make Alcian
yellow, but could not make a product with adequate shelf life. Anatech
thereafter introduced a blue and yellow technique for staining
Helicobacter, which I have not had the opportunity to work with,
though everything I've heard about it has been good.
In the personal opinion of this grumpy old pathologist - if I have 20
cases to sign out today, with one gastric biopsy, I'm quite happy to
have a toluidine blue or Giemsa or Diff-Quik II stain, and spend a few
minutes going over it with an oil immersion lens. If I have to sign
out 70 cases with 10 gastric biopsies, I want an immunostain for H.p.
I've lately replaced most of the old tungsten-filament light bulbs in
my house with energy-efficient compact fluorescent lights (CFL's). All
of these bulbs are made in China - I've checked many brands in many
stores - and each of them contains about 5 mg of mercury. I wish I had
some assurance that the workers who make these bulbs are protected
from exposure to mercury.
It's time to think about these things, folks, it's all one world, and
workers everywhere deserve the same protections in their workplace.
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