Am compelled to respond as I know just what you mean about having a
flame available. Back in the "good old days" about 10 years ago, at my
previous employer, we were forced to get rid of our Bunsen burners.
These of course provided a flame just like your alcohol lamps. I do
have to say they may have been a bit more dangerous as they were fed by
a tube of gas...I'm sure you get the picture. Anyway, not only do I
agree with you about one forceps and the paraffin coating deal. I also
liked the fact that the flame eliminated any residuals, between blocks.
I always thought that was a GLP re: cross contamination, floaters, etc.
However overall lab safety trumped my GLP reasons. And as you've
stated...no accidents, ever to my knowledge, in my old lab.
I have to admit, when we lost the burners I had a sad feeling. It may
seem a bit silly, but I felt it really changed how efficiently and
effectively we could get our embedding done. Eventually we obtained
some bacti-incinerators (I think this has been mentioned already).
They're ok, but you've really got to watch it as the forceps heat so
quickly you'll burn your hand. It'd be nice if you could get something
like a bacti-incinerator at a few thousand degrees cooler!?
So Dan, not that my story helps your cause any, but at least you know I
sympathize. I do have the feeling your safety officer is probably going
to be able to throw his/her weight around with you on this one. Where
I'm working now, we don't have bacti-incinerators. We only have the
warming wells, and I try and rotate 2 or 3 of my "favorite" pairs of
forceps when embedding. I know I'd be devastated if there'd ever been
an accident with flammables (as anyone would). And I'm sure your safety
officer will make the point about paraffin being flammable near your
alcohol lamp. I believe safety officers are forced to look at things a
certain way. There's no way he/she is ever going to understand where
you're coming from and probably has a hard time understanding what your
problem is. But it's not their job to get your job done...what to do?
Think you'll have to suck it up and say good bye to your trusty lamps.
Fellow former fan and friend of fire,
Thomas Jasper HT (ASCP) BAS
Central Oregon Regional Pathology Services
Bend, OR 97701
[mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org] On Behalf Of
Sent: Monday, July 28, 2008 9:21 AM
Subject: [Histonet] Alcohol lamps
I am in disagreement with our lab's Safety officer with regards to
alcohol lamps. We use them in our embedding area to keep our forceps
The officer says that they're a fire hazard (even though we've used them
without incident for over 30 yrs). There are no flammable reagents
(other than the alcohol in the lamp) near the embedding area. I know we
could use the warming wells on the embedders, but try to find more that
1 pair of forceps that you like, or better yet, try to find a forceps
that the tech before hasn't left paraffin all over it. (Yes, I am a
fussy old goat, 27 yrs of Histo, with my 1 favorite pair that NOBODY
Petty issue? Are there others out there using lamps? I am willing to
change if necessary (or so ordered), but would like to hear from those
who do the work, not be told what to do by those who know nothing of the
work. Thanks in advance!!
Daniel R Peterson HT(ASCP)
Histopathology Section Head
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