Re: a picric acid story

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From:Barry Rittman <>
To:histology <>
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It is true that picric acid is potentially dangerous and care should be taken
when storing and handling it. I have used picric acid for more years than I care
to acknowledge and never had a problem. I think that is because I was aware of
its potential dangers and guarded against them. The issue of safety applies to
all the chemicals that we use in the laboratory. If we understand the potential
dangers and take reasonable precautions and also treat all chemicals as
potentially dangerous then we have done the best we can to minimize dangers to
us and others. We seem however to be concentrating on  just a few chemicals
rather than being knowledgeable about all those we are using and their
appropriate handling. We should be concentrating on the  handling of chemicals
in general, training  the appropriate use of masks, gloves and also cleaning up.
I would recommend that before anyone is allowed to routinely weigh any
chemicals, that they be given the task making a 1%  aqueous basic fuchsin from
and filtering this.  Then go with a damp tissue around the balance, filtering
area and the entire countertop. If there are traces of dye anywhere around
these, then this individual needs additional training in the handling of
Because of the nature of our work in laboratories we have to determine what is
an acceptable level of risk.

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