Indoor Air Quality: Molds-Leaks-Response

Molds are environmentally ubiquitous organisms that routinely populate indoor and outdoor environments; nearly
anywhere one looks for mold, it will be found.  For this reason, testing for molds is not recommended when aberrant mold amplification is suspected.  Following water leaks or other events that create conditions conducive to mold growth, the first and most crucial step is to stop the water intrusion.  Then, all affected items must be thoroughly cleaned and completely dried; items that cannot be cleaned and dried quickly  should be discarded.  Rarely, materials will exhibit mold growth as a result of water intrusion, and the response will depend on the extent of the growth.  Walls with fewer  than 10 square feet of visible mold can be cleaned with a surface-compatible cleaner and disinfectant and repainted, whereas extensive
involvement may necessitate removal of affected sections.  Water damaged ceiling tiles must be quickly replaced.

If your work area has been impacted by water, contact Facilities as soon as possible.  Rapid response in these situations can prevent an easily manageable situation from becoming more complex.  Furthermore, keep in mind that healthy individuals are rarely sickened by the presence of small amounts of mold typical of minor water intrusions.  For more information on mold and your health, and on the decision-making process surrounding mold remediation, please see the following
websites and documents:

 X-ray Diffraction Machines: Uses and Hazards

X- ray diffraction machines are used throughout Columbia University. The scattering of x-rays in different directions due to interference effects by matter with accompanying variations in intensity makes these machines a powerful tool in determining the atomic arrangement of matter.  Photos of the X-ray diffraction patterns of crystalized DNA by Rosalind Franklin enabled Watson and Crick to make the critical leap that led to their elucidation of the double helix!

The x-rays used most commonly in these machines are of short wave length, known as “soft” x-rays that are readily absorbed in matter. Soft x-rays are easily shielded, however they are very dangerous when absorbed in soft tissues and severe burns can result from exposure of the hands, arms, skin or eyes to the direct or diffracted beams.  Because of the potential for harm, all x-ray diffraction machines at Columbia University must have interlock switches and warning lights. Effective shielding must be used, film badges must be worn, and radiation safety training must be completed.  For more information please contact EH&S at (212) 854-4442.

X-Ray

 A student had a bad day

A student had a bad day, when an experiment reacted in an unforseen manner..
Luckily, the student was wearing a proper lab coat, and was able to rapidly undo the snaps, and drop the lab coat when flaming solvent from the fumehood splashed out and landed on the bottom half of the lab coat.
What would the lower body have looked like, if this person had been wearing a pair of
polyester shorts?
Lab coat

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