Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Contest: Dumbest thing ever put in a glass waste container?

There's probably a couple of 4L jugs
and a hairbrush in there.
Credit: MIT
A funny-if-horrifying story from respected commenter Old Biddy:
I used to work with with some people testing toothpaste additives. They were in the lab next door to me. They used to have to do some tests involving pig tongues. 
One day I noticed my broken glassware/waste container smelled bad. For a day or two I assumed it was just glassware with traces of amines, but then I realized they were dumping the pig tongues in there. Worst waste container smell ever. I can't even imagine what they were thinking, because the containers only got emptied when full.
Can anyone top Old Biddy? I can't, but it sure annoys me when non-glass things end up in glass waste boxes.

I should promise a fine prize to either Old Biddy or the winner, but I can't think of something at the moment... 

17 comments:

  1. Man, if I had known I was entering a pissing contest I would've added more details. I should clarify that we had large metal drums with metal lids. They were approximately twice the size of a glass waste box. They were lined with plastic bags and emptied when they were full. They typically contained plastic waste and kimwipes in addition to glass waste which was supposed to be rinsed before disposing. Due to the lids keeping the smell contained and the fact that I mostly worked in a glovebox in another room, I didn't notice it for a long time. I ahve no idea how long they had festered.
    But yeah. No one thought to either get a biohazard waste container or take them out to the dumpster with the food waste.

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  2. Maybe the waste from autoclaving used biological samples, but no one would be stupid enough to leave that in glass or plastic waste, even in someone else's lab. Right?

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  3. The dumbest thing? Used sharps. But that just doesn't (?) have the same surreal horror as decomposing pig tongues. (Just checked the glass waste. Most interesting items are some ancient vacuum tubes...Biddy can't be topped.)

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    Replies
    1. I've been putting used sharps in the glass waste over my entire career (10+ years).

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    2. You don't use those rigid red plastic containers? Just put them in glass waste? Do you re-cap them?

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    3. Sorry, maybe "dumb" wasn't a good word choice.. We have had multiple puncture incidents over the past few years in which janitorial staff were jabbed by needles in the regular trash, so the rule here is pretty clear. Rigid sharps containers only. I guess putting it in glass waste is probably better than in the trash.

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    4. Yes, I re-cap them. I would never throw loose needles in the glass waste. If I have loose uncapped needles, I put them in red sharps container; the only one I know of in the building is very far from my lab (process chemist here).

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    5. Anon 8:46--You're doing the one-handed recap, right? (Even that maneuver gives many safety officers the heebie-jeebies... apparently, some needlestick injuries are attributable to recapping, and the rollout of "don't recap" training has coincided with a drop in these injuries.)

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  4. My current lab uses them as general use trash cans, and it drives me nuts.

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  5. Funny story; I blew up one of those one time. Cleaning up after finishing my Ph.D. and I threw a vial containing something vaguely pyrophoric (organometallic chemist here!) into a glass waste box full of test tubes full from a column run by my organic chemist lab mate. Apparently, there was just enough hexanes/EtOAc to form an explosive mixture. Pretty good detonation. So, you know, watch out for that one.

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  6. I found a dead one of these: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gumboot_chiton

    and wanted to get the plates out (after hours):

    http://www.bily.com/pnwsc/web-content/Photos/Chitons/Cryptochiton%20stelleri%20(Middendorff,%201847),%205.jpg

    So just imagine rather a lot of piranha juice with 2 kg of 'meat' chunks suspended in it.... that then required copious HCl to neutralize. Foul, foul and foul!

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  7. (actually neutalized the H2SO4 with KOH, not vicey-versa , duh!)

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  8. CJ, I think the prize should be a can of Febreeze.

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    Replies
    1. I don't think Febreze is going to cut it. Maybe a sensor that detects pig DNA and triggers a bear trap?

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    2. Yeah, but how is CJ going to mail that to the winner?

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    3. How about a Rubber Duck with a broken pipette through it's back?

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