Want to Kill A Coral Reef? Go Swimming With Sunscreen, Study Says

Want to Kill A Coral Reef? Go Swimming With Sunscreen, Study Says

Coral Reef damage

If you like to pile on the sunscreen at the beach to protect yourself against cancer, a new study says you should think twice about going into the water with it on.

Putting sunscreen on at the beach is as necessary as staying hydrated and cleaning up after yourself before you leave, unless you are into the pain of sunburn. But if you use sunscreen, read on about the potential ramifications of going into the surf.

A new study released earlier this week suggests that even one drop of sunscreen could hurt the coral reefs. With that in mind, the study says that more than 14,000 tons of the stuff wind up in the reefs of the world each year. Well, just the ingredient oxybenzone is the problem.

"The use of oxybenzone-containing products needs to be seriously deliberated in islands and areas where coral reef conservation is a critical issue," said team leader and co-author of the report Craig Downs, executive director and researcher of the non-profit scientific organization Haereticus Environmental Laboratory in Virginia. "We have lost at least 80 percent of the coral reefs in the Caribbean. Any small effort to reduce oxybenzone pollution could mean that a coral reef survives a long, hot summer, or that a degraded area recovers. Everyone wants to build coral nurseries for reef restoration, but this will achieve little if the factors that originally killed off the reef remain or intensify in the environment."

Apparently, the oxybenzone not only kills coral, but can deform the DNA of the creature so that it cannot form properly.

The study happened as a coincidence, when several members of the team met at Trunk Bay in the Caribbean, and a local merchant told them that tourists left behind "a long oil slick."

And the beach is not the only way that sunscreen gets into the oceans. "The most direct evidence we have is from beaches with a large amount of people in the water," John Fauth, an associate professor of biology at the University of Central Florida in Orlando and member of the international team, told the Washington Post. "But another way is through the wastewater streams. People come inside and step into the shower. People forget it goes somewhere."

Most popular brands of sunscreen include oxybenzone, but there are several products that work just as well without the damaging ingredient. The non-profit organization Environmental Working Group provides a list of non-offending products.

"This study raises our awareness of a seldom-realized threat to the health of our reef life ... chemicals in the sunscreen products visitors and residents wear are toxic to young corals," said Pat Lindquist, executive director of the Napili Bay and Beach Foundation in Maui. "This knowledge is critical to us as we consider actions to mitigate threats or improve on current practices."

Source: Archives of Environmental Contamination and Toxicology, via The Washington Post and University of Central Florida

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We can use this to create the lamest Captain Planet villain ever.

I don't think it's great idea for the Escapist to suggest that wiping sunscreen off before going into the water is a good idea. UV radiation can penetrate water to the depth of 200m. Removing sunscreen before entering the water will increase your chance of getting skin cancer. Furthermore any exposed flesh above the water will also get UV reflected from the surface increasing your exposure to UV by about 30% than just sitting on the beach.

albino boo:
I don't think it's great idea for the Escapist to suggest that wiping sunscreen off before going into the water is a good idea. UV radiation can penetrate water to the depth of 200m. Removing sunscreen before entering the water will increase your chance of getting skin cancer. Furthermore any exposed flesh above the water will also get UV reflected from the surface increasing your exposure to UV by about 30% than just sitting on the beach.

That's what I was going to mention...entering the water without sunscreen is a pretty bad idea. Hopefully that list of sunscreen that's safe for the coral has some waterproof brands in it.

albino boo:
I don't think it's great idea for the Escapist to suggest that wiping sunscreen off before going into the water is a good idea. UV radiation can penetrate water to the depth of 200m. Removing sunscreen before entering the water will increase your chance of getting skin cancer. Furthermore any exposed flesh above the water will also get UV reflected from the surface increasing your exposure to UV by about 30% than just sitting on the beach.

Fair enough. Modified the lead paragraph.

albino boo:
I don't think it's great idea for the Escapist to suggest that wiping sunscreen off before going into the water is a good idea. UV radiation can penetrate water to the depth of 200m. Removing sunscreen before entering the water will increase your chance of getting skin cancer. Furthermore any exposed flesh above the water will also get UV reflected from the surface increasing your exposure to UV by about 30% than just sitting on the beach.

Luckily exposure to uv radiation doesn't cause skin cancer. Over exposure to it does. Walking around in the sun without sunscreen is perfectly safe as long as you consider how long you are exposed and how strong the sun is while you're at it. You are more likely to get the bad kind of uv during mornings or evenings and less during noon. Keep things like this in mind and we can preserve aquatic life and remove sunscreen and still avoid cancer.

John Keefer:

Apparently, the oxybenzone not only kills coral, but can deform the DNA of the creature so that it cannot form properly.

OK, can you explain this? Does the DNA deformation prevent the DNA from reaching a stable orientation? Does it disrupt developement of the coral? Does it affect DNA replication and thus reproduction? Does it intercalate with DNA? Does it form nicks? Does it form clumps? Does it straighten? This sentence says nothing, it would be better if you just said it causes DNA damage rather than saying some vague effect of it. (I checked it up though, it does affect replication.)

I checked the source article and it did not mention DNA once so I am also curious why you wouldn't list the source you actually used.

If you're going to write science news, do it right.

I always thought it was the norm to not wear sunscreen if you planned on swimming in a natural body of water, honestly. The minimal increase in cancer risk doesn't mean much to me if the alternative is polluting the water.

Yopaz:

John Keefer:

Apparently, the oxybenzone not only kills coral, but can deform the DNA of the creature so that it cannot form properly.

OK, can you explain this? Does the DNA deformation prevent the DNA from reaching a stable orientation? Does it disrupt developement of the coral? Does it affect DNA replication and thus reproduction? Does it intercalate with DNA? Does it form nicks? Does it form clumps? Does it straighten? This sentence says nothing, it would be better if you just said it causes DNA damage rather than saying some vague effect of it. (I checked it up though, it does affect replication.)

I checked the source article and it did not mention DNA once so I am also curious why you wouldn't list the source you actually used.

If you're going to write science news, do it right.

I'm no biologist (yet), but I'm pretty sure the answer you want is definitely in the OP, under the link that says "new study." Below is the main part about DNA, but this chemical, according to the published study, does other stuff to it too.

Oxybenzone is a genotoxicant to corals, exhibiting a positive relationship between DNA-AP lesions and increasing oxybenzone concentrations.

Fortunately, I do not engage in battle with this creature called "sun," so I do not need protection. I am very reef-friendly.

TheRundownRabbit:
We can use this to create the lamest Captain Planet villain ever.

Even worse than the guy whose master plan was to sneak into houses and leave the lights on?

Yopaz:

John Keefer:

Apparently, the oxybenzone not only kills coral, but can deform the DNA of the creature so that it cannot form properly.

OK, can you explain this? Does the DNA deformation prevent the DNA from reaching a stable orientation? Does it disrupt developement of the coral? Does it affect DNA replication and thus reproduction? Does it intercalate with DNA? Does it form nicks? Does it form clumps? Does it straighten? This sentence says nothing, it would be better if you just said it causes DNA damage rather than saying some vague effect of it. (I checked it up though, it does affect replication.)

I checked the source article and it did not mention DNA once so I am also curious why you wouldn't list the source you actually used.

If you're going to write science news, do it right.

Apologies, it was in a UCF article. There was a bad link in the story making it not show properly. I fixed it and also added it to the source. The appropriate paragraph from the UCF piece for my comment was #3: The chemical not only kills the coral, it causes DNA damage in adults and deforms the DNA in coral in the larval stage, making it unlikely they can develop properly. The highest concentrations of oxybenzone were found in reefs most popular with tourists.

albino boo:
I don't think it's great idea for the Escapist to suggest that wiping sunscreen off before going into the water is a good idea. UV radiation can penetrate water to the depth of 200m. Removing sunscreen before entering the water will increase your chance of getting skin cancer. Furthermore any exposed flesh above the water will also get UV reflected from the surface increasing your exposure to UV by about 30% than just sitting on the beach.

A good alternative is to use a UV-protective rash guard when going out swimming. They offer better protection than sunscreen, don't cost much and surfers use them too, so not too dorky either.

It's unsettling how many things we've changed in nature without really even realising. For example: a few years back there was a study that showed how female contraceptives were causing tons of mutations in fish because of the hormones in human urines which were flowing to the ocean.
Sadly I don't think we can actually stop changing shit.

Still, as I diver I'll definitely think about finding some of the sunscreen without that component.

albino boo:
I don't think it's great idea for the Escapist to suggest that wiping sunscreen off before going into the water is a good idea. UV radiation can penetrate water to the depth of 200m. Removing sunscreen before entering the water will increase your chance of getting skin cancer. Furthermore any exposed flesh above the water will also get UV reflected from the surface increasing your exposure to UV by about 30% than just sitting on the beach.

Despite sunscreen you could very easily just wear a T-Shirt or Shirts created especially to wear in water. In Australia where UV is very high many people are using shirts even in swimming pools. For diving and swimming for a long time wearing a shirt keeps you even warmer. As well, shirts are even better in protecting you from the sun than any sun screen.

chadachada123:

I'm no biologist (yet), but I'm pretty sure the answer you want is definitely in the OP, under the link that says "new study." Below is the main part about DNA, but this chemical, according to the published study, does other stuff to it too.

Oxybenzone is a genotoxicant to corals, exhibiting a positive relationship between DNA-AP lesions and increasing oxybenzone concentrations.

That was not listed among the sources when I posted (still isn't), but thanks for directing me to it. If you're planning to be a biologist (guessing based on your (yet)) I welcome you to the field.

John Keefer:

Apologies, it was in a UCF article. There was a bad link in the story making it not show properly. I fixed it and also added it to the source. The appropriate paragraph from the UCF piece for my comment was #3: The chemical not only kills the coral, it causes DNA damage in adults and deforms the DNA in coral in the larval stage, making it unlikely they can develop properly. The highest concentrations of oxybenzone were found in reefs most popular with tourists.

Cool, thanks. Sorry if I come across as rude. The developmental issues is not strictly due to DNA damage (although sufficient DNA damage would indeed be lethal), but rather because it function as an endocrine disruptor, making the corals unable to form the skeletal structures. As I said, it's better to keep it simple and understand everything rather than to misunderstand something and say something incorrect.
I come across too much bad reporting in science. You should also post the peer-reviewed article in the list of sources as secondary sources generally focus on different aspects of a study than what people educated in the field might.

Of course the only real alternatives are nanoparticles, out of the frying pan into the fire.

Yopaz:

John Keefer:

Apologies, it was in a UCF article. There was a bad link in the story making it not show properly. I fixed it and also added it to the source. The appropriate paragraph from the UCF piece for my comment was #3: The chemical not only kills the coral, it causes DNA damage in adults and deforms the DNA in coral in the larval stage, making it unlikely they can develop properly. The highest concentrations of oxybenzone were found in reefs most popular with tourists.

I come across too much bad reporting in science. You should also post the peer-reviewed article in the list of sources as secondary sources generally focus on different aspects of a study than what people educated in the field might.

Added and fixed. I love reporting science, but am no expert in the field. I covered NASA for 5 years for the newspaper, and was in newspapers for 14 years before joining the games industry. I try hard not to be a bad reporter ;)

John Keefer:

Yopaz:

John Keefer:

Apologies, it was in a UCF article. There was a bad link in the story making it not show properly. I fixed it and also added it to the source. The appropriate paragraph from the UCF piece for my comment was #3: The chemical not only kills the coral, it causes DNA damage in adults and deforms the DNA in coral in the larval stage, making it unlikely they can develop properly. The highest concentrations of oxybenzone were found in reefs most popular with tourists.

I come across too much bad reporting in science. You should also post the peer-reviewed article in the list of sources as secondary sources generally focus on different aspects of a study than what people educated in the field might.

Added and fixed. I love reporting science, but am no expert in the field. I covered NASA for 5 years for the newspaper, and was in newspapers for 14 years before joining the games industry. I try hard not to be a bad reporter ;)

You make a solid effort unlike many. Most reporters do a poor job of it, you did include sources for your main article, few news sites outside specialized ones (which often are quite bad at reporting the actual facts) do that. I'm just being picky as I like to know the mechanisms. Thanks for your efforts :)

Yopaz:
Luckily exposure to uv radiation doesn't cause skin cancer. Over exposure to it does.

Strictly speaking any amount of radiation exposure could cause cancer, albeit its very, very unlikely with low doses. Its down to random chance, with increasing amounts of radiation increasing the likelihood.

On topic: A lot of our coral reefs are very, very badly screwed up. I had the privilege to do conservation research on what are probably the best preserved reefs in the world in Indonesia and even then there were dead areas and huge holes in the coral where locals had been fishing with explosives. Other parts of the world are much worse, a big part of that being because of over-tourism and how careless people can be. One of the things banned during our work was diving gloves. Simply because wearing gloves makes people more likely to poke and touch things.

I think there are better ways to preserve coral reefs, like not swimming near them at all, because they can lead to human injury in the first place. Plus, there's the fishmen and the deep ones...

TheRundownRabbit:
We can use this to create the lamest Captain Planet villain ever.

But would this Captain Planet villain get along with Duke Nukem Duke Nukem?

Lightspeaker:

Yopaz:
Luckily exposure to uv radiation doesn't cause skin cancer. Over exposure to it does.

Strictly speaking any amount of radiation exposure could cause cancer, albeit its very, very unlikely with low doses. Its down to random chance, with increasing amounts of radiation increasing the likelihood.

Fair point I guess, but the same could be said for cell division, breathing air, oxidative metabolism, aging and DNA damage from background radiation. My point is that simply getting some uv radiation isn't dangerous and the whole "Wear sunscreen or get cancer" schtick seems more like spreading fear amongst those who don't know better.

On topic: A lot of our coral reefs are very, very badly screwed up. I had the privilege to do conservation research on what are probably the best preserved reefs in the world in Indonesia and even then there were dead areas and huge holes in the coral where locals had been fishing with explosives. Other parts of the world are much worse, a big part of that being because of over-tourism and how careless people can be. One of the things banned during our work was diving gloves. Simply because wearing gloves makes people more likely to poke and touch things.

Thanks for sharing your experiences, interesting to hear from someone with more intimate knowledge.

FalloutJack:
I think there are better ways to preserve coral reefs, like not swimming near them at all, because they can lead to human injury in the first place. Plus, there's the fishmen and the deep ones...

The problem is that when chemicals are released into the sea they reach the reefs without you being directly near them. It's transferred to plankton which are eaten by the coral larvae or they simply diffuse there. Of course not swimming near there and restricting fishing are also necessary, but I am not sure it would be enough.

Yopaz:

FalloutJack:
I think there are better ways to preserve coral reefs, like not swimming near them at all, because they can lead to human injury in the first place. Plus, there's the fishmen and the deep ones...

The problem is that when chemicals are released into the sea they reach the reefs without you being directly near them. It's transferred to plankton which are eaten by the coral larvae or they simply diffuse there. Of course not swimming near there and restricting fishing are also necessary, but I am not sure it would be enough.

It's a start. Coral reefs are dangerous, as is. And while I don't know how fast the diluting properties of a salty ocean works, it's more than zero and no guarantee that any - or as much - of the chemical ever reaches the reef if people aren't damn well near it, anyway.

FalloutJack:

Yopaz:

FalloutJack:
I think there are better ways to preserve coral reefs, like not swimming near them at all, because they can lead to human injury in the first place. Plus, there's the fishmen and the deep ones...

The problem is that when chemicals are released into the sea they reach the reefs without you being directly near them. It's transferred to plankton which are eaten by the coral larvae or they simply diffuse there. Of course not swimming near there and restricting fishing are also necessary, but I am not sure it would be enough.

It's a start. Coral reefs are dangerous, as is. And while I don't know how fast the diluting properties of a salty ocean works, it's more than zero and no guarantee that any - or as much - of the chemical ever reaches the reef if people aren't damn well near it, anyway.

The problem is biomagnification, if toxic chemicals were simply diluted then it wouldn't be much of a problem. They don't accumulate in chemical aggregations, they aggregate because they are ingested by small animals and plants. Larger animals eat a given quantity of them which increases the concentration. These chemicals work on the endocrine system meaning they can be harmful at extremely low concentrations. It's not as simple as chemicals being diluted. It's the effect a chemical can have in an ecosystem rather than in a chemical system and even if it was oxybenzone isn't very soluble in water making it extremely slow to dilute.

So while it is a good idea to do the things you said, we will still harm the ecosystem by releasing pollutants into the ocean. We can't do just one of the things and say "at least we tried" after we've failed.

Yopaz:

Lightspeaker:

Yopaz:
Luckily exposure to uv radiation doesn't cause skin cancer. Over exposure to it does.

Strictly speaking any amount of radiation exposure could cause cancer, albeit its very, very unlikely with low doses. Its down to random chance, with increasing amounts of radiation increasing the likelihood.

Fair point I guess, but the same could be said for cell division, breathing air, oxidative metabolism, aging and DNA damage from background radiation. My point is that simply getting some uv radiation isn't dangerous and the whole "Wear sunscreen or get cancer" schtick seems more like spreading fear amongst those who don't know better.

You're quite right, which is the problem with the whole thing and why a lot of the more hysterical stuff (as seen in the now-infamous Daily Mail) is laughed off. Ultimately its down to risk management; some things increase risk of cancer, some things decrease it. Some of those that increase risk are good for you in other ways. On the whole, as you point out, its just important to be sensible. Unfortunately its difficult to convey that message a lot of the time.

For me personally I rarely wear sunscreen and only do so because I'm worried about burning (I'm not a big sunbather on holiday, prefer to sit in the shade quietly with a book). Though considering the amount of mutagens and radioactive substances I've worked with for experiments over the past ten years or so the slight increase in risk from a little sun exposure doesn't exactly worry me. X-D

That isn't to say I'm going to go and lie on a sunbed for hours every day though.

On topic: A lot of our coral reefs are very, very badly screwed up. I had the privilege to do conservation research on what are probably the best preserved reefs in the world in Indonesia and even then there were dead areas and huge holes in the coral where locals had been fishing with explosives. Other parts of the world are much worse, a big part of that being because of over-tourism and how careless people can be. One of the things banned during our work was diving gloves. Simply because wearing gloves makes people more likely to poke and touch things.

Thanks for sharing your experiences, interesting to hear from someone with more intimate knowledge.

From those I spoke to diving on other reefs the Caribbean is in the worst state, although apparently the Great Barrier Reef is increasingly suffering because of the large numbers of people who go there and are careless about it. Its quite sad.

Though I did hear one story from a friend about a person who got their comeuppance. Apparently this person had had these like...Titanium reinforced gloves and consequently used to poke at EVERYTHING. Sticking their hands in holes and all that to harass the wildlife. Eventually, however, they messed up and stuck their hand in a hole which was the home of a Moray Eel. Didn't lose their finger purely because of the gloves but ended up with like half the bones in their hand broken from the bite.

In general people are just really bad at looking after the environment. I mean its hard to have NO impact but some people are rather ignorant about minimising it. First rule of actually working out there was unless you were taking a sample...you touch absolutely nothing. In fairness in a lot of cases that's because tons of things are lethally toxic. :P

Lightspeaker:

You're quite right, which is the problem with the whole thing and why a lot of the more hysterical stuff (as seen in the now-infamous Daily Mail) is laughed off. Ultimately its down to risk management; some things increase risk of cancer, some things decrease it. Some of those that increase risk are good for you in other ways. On the whole, as you point out, its just important to be sensible. Unfortunately its difficult to convey that message a lot of the time.

For me personally I rarely wear sunscreen and only do so because I'm worried about burning (I'm not a big sunbather on holiday, prefer to sit in the shade quietly with a book). Though considering the amount of mutagens and radioactive substances I've worked with for experiments over the past ten years or so the slight increase in risk from a little sun exposure doesn't exactly worry me. X-D

That isn't to say I'm going to go and lie on a sunbed for hours every day though.

Yeah, the balance is important. Free radicals are a concern... but also essential. uv radiation causes cancer, but also produces vitamin D. Vitamin E prevents oxidative stress, but has also been shown to increase lethality in lung cancer. One substance can be used to scare thousands in one article and then make thousands believe it will cure all their diseases in the next. I have been working some with acrylamide when analyzing proteins and knowing the dangers associated with it so I have to admit I was shocked when the news reported that it is actually formed when preparing potatoes at high temperatures though... still not going to stop frying potatoes though...

From those I spoke to diving on other reefs the Caribbean is in the worst state, although apparently the Great Barrier Reef is increasingly suffering because of the large numbers of people who go there and are careless about it. Its quite sad.

Though I did hear one story from a friend about a person who got their comeuppance. Apparently this person had had these like...Titanium reinforced gloves and consequently used to poke at EVERYTHING. Sticking their hands in holes and all that to harass the wildlife. Eventually, however, they messed up and stuck their hand in a hole which was the home of a Moray Eel. Didn't lose their finger purely because of the gloves but ended up with like half the bones in their hand broken from the bite.

In general people are just really bad at looking after the environment. I mean its hard to have NO impact but some people are rather ignorant about minimising it. First rule of actually working out there was unless you were taking a sample...you touch absolutely nothing. In fairness in a lot of cases that's because tons of things are lethally toxic. :P

I've heard trawling has been really destructive to many reefs too. With global warming and ocean acidification things aren't looking good. I haven't really worked with animals or field work, but in the chemical labs I've always been told to not wear gloves unless I am working with something dangerous and then always think carefully about everything I do while wearing gloves. Bad glove practice may be harmful to yourself and others because we think it's safe.

I agree with what you're saying, we're too careless most of the time.

Yopaz:
Compression Space

Ah, well I did not mean to imply that that should be the only thing evar. I made that as a for-example, because it was simple and obvious and people don't do it when they should. I think removing prior would cause some of the problems listed by people here about the dangers to human skin, especially in those who are more avid swimmers. Our reefs are important, but so too is the battle against Mr. Sun.

Yopaz:
I have been working some with acrylamide when analyzing proteins and knowing the dangers associated with it so I have to admit I was shocked when the news reported that it is actually formed when preparing potatoes at high temperatures though... still not going to stop frying potatoes though...

Oh SDS-PAGE? Yeah, the acrylamide can be kinda nasty, after a while you end up getting used to it though. Its not so bad when its locked up in the gel either. The really nasty stuff is the SDS powder itself because its a very fine powder that is an irritant. That's one of the few things that I was absolutely careful to make sure I had my gloves tucked into my lab coat, safety glasses in place and a face mask on. Didn't fancy the chemical burns, I've already had those from acid before now.

...but in the chemical labs I've always been told to not wear gloves unless I am working with something dangerous and then always think carefully about everything I do while wearing gloves. Bad glove practice may be harmful to yourself and others because we think it's safe.

Typically I just threw gloves on all the time but when you're working with human cells or infectious bacteria its usually a good idea to at least wear gloves. You end up becoming a bit jaded with the routine stuff which is probably bad but on the other hand familiarity reduces accidents as long as you're careful.

Though safety is somewhat relative. A friend of mine stabbed himself with a syringe that had had a lysed cell sample in it and the lysis buffer included 2-mercaptoethanol. He spoke to our health and safety officer who said he'd be fine...before slapping him with a big pile of accident paperwork to fill out. X-D

I have to admit even my University's safety officer stated (during a radiation safety lecture) that Biologists are the absolute worst at wearing appropriate safety gear. He once caught one particularly old-school professor mouth pipetting a radioactive isotope.

Lightspeaker:

Yopaz:
I have been working some with acrylamide when analyzing proteins and knowing the dangers associated with it so I have to admit I was shocked when the news reported that it is actually formed when preparing potatoes at high temperatures though... still not going to stop frying potatoes though...

Oh SDS-PAGE? Yeah, the acrylamide can be kinda nasty, after a while you end up getting used to it though. Its not so bad when its locked up in the gel either. The really nasty stuff is the SDS powder itself because its a very fine powder that is an irritant. That's one of the few things that I was absolutely careful to make sure I had my gloves tucked into my lab coat, safety glasses in place and a face mask on. Didn't fancy the chemical burns, I've already had those from acid before now.

Yeah, I've done quite a few Western Blots. These days I just use pre-made gels so the acrylamide isn't as big a problem anymore, the SDS is still a hassle though.

Typically I just threw gloves on all the time but when you're working with human cells or infectious bacteria its usually a good idea to at least wear gloves. You end up becoming a bit jaded with the routine stuff which is probably bad but on the other hand familiarity reduces accidents as long as you're careful.

Though safety is somewhat relative. A friend of mine stabbed himself with a syringe that had had a lysed cell sample in it and the lysis buffer included 2-mercaptoethanol. He spoke to our health and safety officer who said he'd be fine...before slapping him with a big pile of accident paperwork to fill out. X-D

I have to admit even my University's safety officer stated (during a radiation safety lecture) that Biologists are the absolute worst at wearing appropriate safety gear. He once caught one particularly old-school professor mouth pipetting a radioactive isotope.

My samples are ideally quite clean so I wear gloves to protect my samples rather than myself (with some exceptions) and I am always really careful at not touching anything but the reagents and my samples. I am working with human cells so I need hepatitis vaccine to be safe though.

I have heard a few similar stories as you. For example one mouth.pipetting concentrated sulphuric acid and spent a week feeling the effects of it afterwards. Yeah... safety is important.

 

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