Heritage items tend to be a commonality in lab spaces; I’d definitely bet that we can all picture at least a dozen of these relics from another time, persisting in our spaces due to nostalgia, or even simple negligence. Sometimes, these items add charm—like that boombox with only one cassette, or a textbook from the 60’s.
Other times, however, they pose significant safety risks and have been hidden away, poorly documented, for future students to deal with (or, perhaps more aptly, to not deal with).
It is with this latter category in mind that The JRSI hosted a Mercy Thermometer Exchange for researchers to trade their outdated mercury thermometers for safer alcohol-based ones, free of charge. In December of 2018, UChicago researchers exchanged approximately 260 mercury thermometers with their alcohol-based counterparts, ensuring free and proper disposal of the heavy metal waste while simultaneously securing their labs with free new thermometers!
And with that, we are all able to sleep a bit easier, knowing that there are that many fewer mercury thermometers in our community, waiting to dramatically fall out of oil baths.
We are incredibly humbled and excited about how this event was received. Needless to say, we are greatly looking forward to hosting similar events to help all of us researchers out there maintain safe and effective working environments—with free safety items! Woo!
If you have an idea for future equipment exchange programs, please absolutely let us know. After all, peer-to-peer communication and mutual improvement is why we’re even here!
Now, let’s get back out there, do some science, and keep improving.