Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Not knitting, but possibly domestic.

I scrubbed floors today. In lab. Our floors are filthy.

Why, you ask? Well.

I was doing a pulse-chase experiment, which is basically a very, very radioactive experiment. It's kind of scary, the amount of radioactivity this experiment uses. This morning I was doing part of it, getting ready for a 2 hour incubation, and I was wrapping the sample tubes in parafilm (kind of like saran wrap) to make doubly sure there'd be no leaks, and whoops, one fell.... and popped open when it hit the floor, spilling half a mL of highly radioactive liquid on the floor.

This event required about 7 hours of decontamination. I scrubbed the floor with a harsh detergent, checked my progress with a Geiger counter and something a bit more sensitive (a scintillation counter), scrubbed more, scrubbed more, scrubbed more. Then I stepped in radioactivity, so we had to bag my shoes and a labmate was kind enough to run to my car to grab my gym bag, in which were sneakers. More scrubbing. Then I scrubbed with an abrasive, Comet-like soap, which finally (finally!) made a difference in how radioactive the floor was.

Then the guy from environmental health and safety swooped in to continue/finish the decontamination, thank god. He has mostly decontaminated my shoes, and will give them back when they're clean, which might be tomorrow.

But not only was this frusterating, scary, annoying and painful (my torn minuscus does not like kneeling to scrub floors), I had to cancel a lunch date and totally screw up my experiment schedule. I'm going to finish this experiment tomorrow, and I will not have shakey hands.

So now I'm exhausted, but I'm relieved that the floor is now safe again.

We call things that register on the Geiger counter (i.e. are radioactive) "hot". Things that are not radioactive are "cold". The floor was really hot. I kinda felt like that website "hot or not" as I assessed what part of the floor was hot, and what was not so hot. Also, luckily, I am not hot. EHS guy wanded me to make sure.

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