Xylene does smell nice!

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In a message dated 3/2/00 Joyce Weems, St. Joseph's Hosp of Atlanta,  wrote:

<<And nowadays we have kids dying with glue and paint. All along they could

just work in Histology!>>

'Tain't funny! Aromatic solvents, particularly toluene, are widely used by 
kids who inhale solvent fumes to get high ("huffing").

Like skateboarding, this hazardous behavior rarely persists beyond the age of 
14. But in my travels I've encountered one older histologist, pretty crazy I 
thought, who took the waste xylene home, and I think she huffed it (she's 
dead now). 

Aromatic hydrocarbons (benzene, toluene, xylene) are strongly suspected of 
causing myelocytic leukemia (information about the incidence of these 
diseases in histologists is badly needed). If you can smell them in a 
histology lab, the ventilation is inadequate.

Several people on this list have recently noted sensitization to the limonene 
class of xylene substitutes (HistoClear, AmeriClear, Hemodeedee and what have 
you). I didn't know how common the problem is, but I'm not surprised.

I suppose that the odorless aliphatic solvents (ProPar, Clear-Rite 3, and 
several others) get around all of these problems.

Aliphatics are expensive, but they can be about 85% recovered by 
distillation, if you can keep pathologists and managers from having 
hissy-fits about your running a still in the lab (frequent problem in small 
labs). It's important to know that every brand has a different distillation 
routine, and you must not mix them in the still. Management has to understand 
in advance that they cannot switch brands on you just because the salesman 
for Cheapo-Kleer suddenly offers a ten cent a gallon price break.

Bob Richmond
Samurai Pathologist
Knoxville TN 

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