Volume 92, Issue 19

Tuesday, October 6, 1998

no funny business


Ignorance is a science student

Re: Protect everyone, take it off, Sept. 29

To the Editor:

D.S. Hayden has called the practice of wearing lab coats and greens in public places "disgusting, irresponsible behaviour" and invites those who agree with him/her to say something when they see it. I accuse D.S. of disgusting, irresponsible behaviour by spouting ignorant and careless remarks like this in a public forum. Let the rebuttal begin.

1. Lab coats and greens are NOT meant to protect the wearer from contaminants or pathogens, in any circumstances. The only thing that protects you from contaminants is proper safety gear (latex gloves, masks, goggles, air filters, protective gowns and caps, etc., etc.). Ask any health care worker who caught hepatitis C or tuberculosis from a patient – I'd bet the cost of my education that they were wearing greens and lab coats at the time but gloves and masks were probably absent.

2. The only thing that protects patients or lab work from contaminants are the above mentioned equipment plus the proper sterilization and sanitation techniques. Lab coats and greens protect your clothes from getting ruined.

3. In ANY situation where either radioactive material or known virulent pathogens are being worked with, the strictest protective measures are taken and enforced by law, specifically to avoid contamination. You're not allowed to handle a nuclear fuel rod and then go straight to the caf for a slice and a coke – regardless of what you are wearing.

By submitting your letter without knowing any facts you are raising fears and concerns in the student population which have no grounds. Urging students to harass anyone who wears a lab coat is terribly irresponsible. What if someone has been doing work on a computer all day (some people do wear lab coats and don't go near patients or labs, you know) and people start coming up to them and start telling them off?

I can tell from your ignorant letter that the "MSc" you are a candidate for has nothing to do with "science" and that you have never been inside a lab, because you would have known all the facts beforehand and you wouldn't have sent in such a letter.

You present yourself as a person who still believes they can get AIDS from a toilet seat. Did you ever think that the bus pole you've been holding for the last 10 minutes may have been held by a TB sufferer just before you? Have you ever thought that the computer keyboard you are using in the email lab may have just been sneezed on or coughed all over by someone with influenza? Ever wonder where that guy who picks his zits in class wipes his fingers? What about library books? Door handles? Bathroom taps? Money? What are you going to do about all that stuff, D.S.?

I know I wouldn't tolerate a person all spattered in blood and guts eating a sandwich next to me in the cafeteria, but in the last five years here at Western it has yet to happen to me and I doubt it has happened to you. Don't spread vicious rumours.

Victor Daveikis

Dentistry IV

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Copyright The Gazette 1998