OK guys.. couldnt resist the temptation to write this soon.. so, here I go..
I love chemistry. I chose chemistry after my school because I love those colorful experiments. I remember doing 'exciting chemistry' at my home when I took some salts and sulfuric acid from my +2 lab all the way to Rameswaram and demonstrating in front of my folks by adding some acid and making all of us cough with some stupid gas generated. When I think of it now, I have mixed feelings. What a terrible mistake it is.. When I said my dad that I chose chem., he was quite worried for this reason.
The level of safety and hazard awareness in most Indian school is pathetic.. All of you guys would have done chemistry practicals at school and some at college too, right? Have any of you been instructed to enter the lab with safety goggles on? I seriously doubt whether even the best of the schools do that.. In my B.Sc. days, no goggles.. I heard that, even in reputed institutes like IIT's, in MSc chem. labs, no goggles!! Even in IISc, when I started my research, many labs across the chemistry departments never bothered about it.. How terrible.. Nobody needs to be taught about the importance of eyes.. in those young days, when one is playful and less responsible, accidents easily happen.. What if a drop of anything other than pure water falls into the eyes!!
I talked to my colleague here at UF and came to know that, even in their schools, they ought to wear goggles. I wasnt surprised at all.. All the profs in IITs spend a few years in the western countries and they are certainly aware of the safety issues. It is the responsibility of them and others to make sure that no one enters any chemical lab anywhere in the country without any protection. How much does a goggle cost? I am not talking about the high-end special plastic ones.. even those, which people buy from roadside shops while driving 2-wheelers, would suffice, to start with. How much does that cost - 20, 25 bucks? If a school or college orders it bulk, it would be cheaper and it would easily last for the 2 or 3 years the student spends.
Next thing that makes me boil each time I think about is how the laboratory wastes are handled and disposed.. I will write about it sometime later..