Re: Static (old & new prophylaxis)

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From:"J. A. Kiernan" <>
To:Histonet <>
Date:Fri, 1 Oct 1999 01:29:55 -0400 (EDT)
Content-Type:TEXT/PLAIN; charset=US-ASCII

> At 11:33 AM 09/30/1999 -0400, Weems, Joyce wrote:
> >Does anyone have any good solutions to eliminate static electricity? We have
> >a tech who carries a large charge :>) and she is about to go crazy! Thanks,

  Increasing the humidity helps. An easy way to do this is to
  gently breath from the mouth over the blade and ribbon. Think
  steamy thoughts (boiling kettles, foggy mornings etc) while 
  doing this. 

  I've tried various published methods based on electrically
  grounding myself and the microtome, but without success.

  When I arrived at U.W.O. in the early 1970s an elderly and
  very expert technician gave me a block of metal held by a
  flexible arm to a heavy base. You positioned the metal block
  about 3 cm from the cutting site. It was supposed to contain
  some radioactive material that ionized the air. The static
  charge was presumably dissipated in neutralizing the air ions.
  It worked pretty well for 3 or 4 years, but by then I became
  convinced it was making no difference. I suppose the radioactive
  isotope must have gone through too many half-lives. It wouldn't
  have deteriorated if the manufacturer had used real radium!

  There's a photo and a brief description of this histologist's
  radioactive static stopper in Krajian & Gradwohl's 
  "Histopathological Technic," 2nd edn (1952) St Louis, MO: Mosby.
  The technical instructions for microtomy in this old textbook
  are very good. I commend it highly to anyone with access to a
  library at least 50 years old.

  The use of ionizing radiation to inhibit static is unlikely 
  these days to be acceptable to the safety police. I have no idea 
  how much radioactivity was involved. We had regular checks from 
  our radiation protection people when we were using the device, 
  and they never found anything to complain about. Possibly the
  static inhibition was all wishful thinking, and the thing never
  contained anything radioactive. Or maybe it really did work
  but for another reason, and the Good Gremlins in the Magic
  Block decided to sell their services elsewhere. Universities
  worldwide are notorious for always charging but never paying
  the current market price. End of static comments.

 John A. Kiernan,
 Department of Anatomy & Cell Biology,
 The University of Western Ontario,
 LONDON,  Canada  N6A 5C1

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