# Is this poor laboratory safety?

I'm a formulation chemist. My co-worker, is also a formulation scientist but has no previous formal training in chemical safety or lab chemistry settings.

I always work in the hood unless I’m just mixing fruit extracts or something non-volatile. My coworker doesn't ever work in the hood as they believe that since this goes in food it must be safe. The lab is small and our work stations are pretty close. My coworker opens up reagent bottles and performs all other tasks on the bench top.

I don't think their reasoning is correct since in food items, the chemicals we work with are present in the ppm to ppb ranges whereas when a pure bottle of them is opened on a lab bench, they are in high concentrations. In addition we face prolonged exposure ($$8$$ hr work days,$$5$$ days a week). The two scenarios are very different.

Also, I feel like I’ve had a sore throat ever since I’ve started working there.

I just don’t think these are prudent lab practices. Am I overreacting or does my coworker need to start working in the hood?

• The lab should be shut down if there is no exhaust and your colleague and the higher up management do need to go through proper training. Sep 8, 2020 at 3:07
• Your coworker, like every chemist. absolutely must learn and remember the classic words of Paracelsus: “All things are poisons, for there is nothing without poisonous qualities. It is only the dose which makes a thing poison.” Sep 9, 2020 at 11:21
• "My coworker doesn't ever work in the hood as she believes that since this goes in food it must be safe." By that logic she would also have no problem with ingesting pure sodium and inhaling pure chlorine. After all, they are the ingredients for table salt, so they must be safe. Are you sure she has a chemistry education? Sep 9, 2020 at 13:15
• @Philipp she doesn’t. Studied nutrition in college
– user98623
Sep 9, 2020 at 13:25
• Or acetic acid aka vinegar. Can't you use that as an example for her? Sep 9, 2020 at 13:29