When I was at Pima Community College in Tucson, AZ, it was decided that chemistry students would be required to wear lab coats. As a Community College with limited lab space, there was no place to store lab coats between classes. Students would take
their lab coats "home" with them. Many of those lab coats would just spend each week in the trunk or back seat of their car between uses, exposed to high temperatures due to Tucson weather. Few were laundered on a regular basis and often got quite "ripe"
because of that. It was not pleasant to work near those individuals.
I expressed my concerns about lab coats being taken out of the lab and that there were no instructions for laundering the lab coats, and especially, if done so, they should not be laundered with everyday clothing due to possible chemical contamination. Also,
they should be cautions that the use of any fabric softener affects any flammability of the lab coat. The other members of my department never addressed those issues.
I agree that lab coats and other personal protective lab equipment should not be shared among individuals unless they are properly cleaned between use.
David A. Katz
Chemist, Educator, Expert Demonstrator, Science Communicator, and Consultant
Programs and workshops for teachers, schools, museums, and the public
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