[Histonet] Re: bunsen burner at the embedding center

Bob Richmond rsrichmond <@t> gmail.com
Fri Sep 20 09:35:55 CDT 2013

I distinctly remember when I was a resident at Johns Hopkins in the late
1960s that the histotechs would smoke while staining and coverslipping
without much ventilation. When I suggested to the chief technologist (who
later died of smoking related disease at 65, but at least he hadn't set
himself afire) that this wasn't such a good idea, he responded by stubbing
out a lighted cigarette in a Stender dish full of xylene (apparently you
can do this trick with gasoline also, but don't try it at home please).

Buffering formalin was prohibited back then, and they removed the formalin
pigment by passing the sections through a concentrated solution (20 or 30%)
of picric acid in acetone. I'm glad he didn't try the cigarette trick in
THAT Stender dish.

Fast-forward nearly half a century, and in the three labs I'm working in
I'm still grossing formalin-fixed tissue with minimal ventilation, but at
least people aren't allowed to smoke in the lab any more.

Bob Richmond
Samurai Pathologist
Maryville TN

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