Computer database being developed at Temple will allow for better inventory of chemicals

Keeping up-to-date inventories of chemicals being used in laboratories throughout a major research institution like Temple University can be a daunting task, often requiring untold lab visits and countless man-hours to complete.

But now, thanks to virologist Jay Rappaport, Ph.D., an AIDS researcher in Temples Center for Neurovirology and Cancer Biology, the task may soon get much easier.

Rappaport, who chairs the Universitys bio-safety committee, has developed a prototype database and software that will more efficiently manage chemical and biological inventories, while aiding in regulatory and safety compliance.

Researchers or lab managers only have to submit a chemical inventory once a year, says Rappaport. Thats not a real-time inventory of whats actually in the lab. And even though its a federal requirement that an inventory be filed, some just dont do it.

Rappaport says the database will keep an inventoried record of chemicals in all labs across campus and screen for hazardous chemicals, explosives and water reactives--information that would prove especially useful in the case of an emergency such as a fire.

The people in the labs need to know what theyre working with and whats hazardous, he explains. In the case of an emergency, response personnel also need to know what theyre dealing with.

For example, if you have a fire in a lab, and that lab has large quantities of water re-actives in it, you dont want to spray water at the fire, because thats just going to make the situation worse, Rappaport adds. Thats why many times in these situations, emergency personnel wont enter a lab until they have a good idea what they are dealing with. Basically, this database will quickly provide them with that information. The system may also help to prevent laboratory accidents. For example, there are some chemicals which, left too long, can form peroxides, which can create hazardous situations.

If these peroxides

Contact: Preston M. Moretz
Temple University

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