Bright posters and a 200-page manual will guide the students and teachers of Delhi University (DU) on what precautions to take while conducting experiments in its chemistry laboratories.
Following the aftermath of the Cobalt 60 mishap, as a first step towards checking such instances in future, the Delhi University has decided to come up with informative posters and a manual.
In February this year, DU’s Chemistry department had sold a “Gamma Irradiator”, which contained Cobalt 60, as scrap. Later, due to a leak of Cobalt 60 — a radioactive substance — from the instrument, one person died and three others fell ill in Mayapuri.
“The Cobalt 60 incident was an eye-opener. On reviewing existing safety measures for students in laboratories, we found that basic guidelines on how to handle chemicals were missing. That’s why the manual and the posters,” said AK Bakshi, director of Institute of Lifelong Learning (ILLL) and Head of the Department of Chemistry.
The manual and the posters, which have been prepared by the ILLL, are in the final stages. A meeting of chemistry teachers from the department and various colleges will be held on August 3.
“The teachers will be shown the posters and manuals for suggestions to improvise on them further,” said Bakshi.
While one of the posters lists the do’s and don’ts while conducting experiments, the other lists chemicals and their symbols, while the third has a list of first-aid measures to follow in case of a laboratory accident.
The manual contains names of 195 chemicals, arranged alphabetically, which are commonly used, their properties, how to handle and store them and how they look when in a bottle and outside it.
It also lists health hazards, symptoms, antidotes and safe disposal of a chemical. A glossary of common medical terms also features in the manual.
“When students see the instructions daily, they will be conditioned and will automatically follow these norms later. This is also an effort to send across a message to students that we are concerned about their safety. We are also looking at a possibility of allocating some marks to lab safety, so that students have an incentive to follow them earnestly,” added Bakshi.