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I am doing my masters in science and today one of our neighbors from the other lab came to heat his samples on a heating pad. the samples were in small tubes which contained Betamechaptoethanol, when he finished heating them, the tube cab suddenly opened because of the temperature. Our lab smelled extremely bad even though I was wearing a mask and lab coat. when I got home I could still smell the betamechaptoethanol. I am so worried about it because my clothes even smell like it. Is the smell toxic? I put my clothes in the basement and still can smell it.

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    $\begingroup$ Beta mercaptoethanol? $\endgroup$ Commented Jul 6, 2023 at 2:20
  • $\begingroup$ Almost all thiols are smelly even in ppb levels. For example, $\ce{H2S}$ and garlic. But my question is why some one with MS level education let some one to heat closed container containing somewhat volatile compound? Nonetheless, heating a closed container is a major safety issue regardless of what it contains. $\endgroup$ Commented Jul 7, 2023 at 17:56

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Some sulfur organic compounds have rather a strong odor. For your delectation, may I suggest reading Derek Lowe on the not dissimilar compound, thioacetone. For further documentation, see Grayson Van Beuren.

Perhaps your laboratory neighbor so enjoyed working with beta mercaptoethanol (AKA 2-Mercaptoethanol) he wished to share the pleasure. However, "Due to its diminished vapor pressure, its odor, while unpleasant, is less objectionable than related thiols." On the other hand, he did warm it, all the better to increase vapor pressure and to help you appreaciate it.

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    $\begingroup$ They also say Se is much worse than S and Te much worse than Se. It is reportedly enough to hold a piece of Te in a bare hand for a while and it would exclude you from social life for months. Some chemists reportedly commited suicide because if that. $\endgroup$
    – Poutnik
    Commented Jul 6, 2023 at 4:25
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    $\begingroup$ They say "Smell it, and you'll vomit farther than you can see". $\endgroup$ Commented Jul 6, 2023 at 9:03
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    $\begingroup$ You will die a lot sooner if safety rules are not in place and enforced in your lab. $\endgroup$
    – jimchmst
    Commented Jul 6, 2023 at 21:37

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