A recent report from the President’s Cancer Panel on the environmental causes of cancer* had a rather interesting recommendation relevant to chemists. As to what you could do to lower your risk and your family’s, here’s what it said (page 111):
“Family exposure to numerous occupational chemicals can be reduced by removing shoes before entering the home and washing work clothes separately from the other family laundry.”
So what do you think of that? As chemists, we are presumably more exposed than the typical person, although I suspect that there are industrial workers (coal miners?) who are even more exposed than us.
I know that I have typically avoided bringing my shoes into the home (but, then again, I’ve always taken off my shoes before I enter my home). Recently, I have begun washing my work clothes separately from my family’s. Due to my work circumstances, I’m guessing that I carry home more compound that the average chemist. Then again, it’s the same washing machine. Short of running an ethanol rinse between washes (can you imagine the cost?), I don’t know if there’s a good answer for that one.
I’m terribly interested to know what other people’s habits are about their clothing and chemical hygiene? Do you let your kids hug you when you walk in the door from work? Do you let your dog chew on your work shoes? Inquiring minds want to know…
*Folks (e.g. Derek Lowe) have been pretty critical of the report. I’ve noticed that it’s pretty long on assertion myself. Nonetheless, it’s an interesting topic.
Photo from the University of Ottawa’s lab EH&S site.