Warnings Affixed to Laboratory Doors at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology
As a service to our readers, we will be gathering and reprinting notices posted on laboratory doors at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Cambridge, Massachusetts.
“#5 Is a Corker.”
The following notice was found affixed to an environment-controlled “cold” room in the Whitaker College of Health Science & Technology on the campus of MIT. It appears below unaltered.
1. If an alarm sounds, leave the room immediately. If the door was open, shut it; the room temperature will restabilize and the alarm will automatically reset. If the alarm does not reset and the room is wired into the central Facilities alarm system, a Facilities employee will respond and check the room. In the case where the environmental room is not connected to the central alarm, please call Facilities (FIXIT or 3-4948) and report the alarm condition. Do not enter the room until the Facilities employee has checked the room and determined the cause of the alarm.
2. If you smell any unusual odors, leave the room and call Facilities (3-4948). Freon itself does not have an odor but Freon leaking from pipes will sometimes have an oily odor.
3. If you experience any dizziness or lightheadedness while working in the room, leave immediately, call 100, and report to the Medical Department to be evaluated. They will notify Facilities (3-4948) who will respond and check the air quality in the room.
4. In general, keep the time working in environmental rooms to a minimum. If extended work is necessary, contact the Industrial Hygiene Office (3-2596) for an evaluation of the general air quality of the room during your experimental procedure. Notify a coworker if you are using the room alone for more than a few minutes.
5. In general, work with flammable solvents, corrosive acids, asphyxiants such as nitrogen and carbon dioxide, and open flames (e.g. Bunsen burners) should not be done in environmental rooms. These rooms have either limited mechanical ventilation and rely on opening and closing the door to change the air in the room. Volatile flammable solvents can cause fires or explosions; the exposed motors of the circulation fans are the ignition source. Acids can corrode cooling coils in the refrigeration system causing Freon leaks. Asphyxiant gasses can displace oxygen in the room due to the low ventilation rate. Storage of large quantities of dry ice in freezer rooms can release carbon dioxide and lower oxygen levels. Environmental rooms need to be specially designed in order to conduct chemical work. If you have any questions about chemical work or general air quality in environmental rooms, please contact the Industrial Hygiene Office (3-2596) for an evaluation.
6. Do not have open containers of water in cold rooms: these cause excessive frost in the refrigeration system and lead to malfunction and temperature instability.
7. The contained atmosphere in environmental rooms and recirculation of most of the air creates a potential for retaining any aerosols that are formed during research procedures. This can lead to cross-contamination of research projects and personnel exposure. Keep these rooms as clean as possible.
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