Chemistry students risk of death
Some chemistry students at University of Waterloo may be at a low risk for Hepatitis B, C, and HIV due to participation in a lab experiment.
Seventy-seven students who were enrolled in CHEM237L during the spring 2012 term received an email from the school around Sept. 21 informing those who participated in a blood glucose lab that they may be at risk of having the diseases.
According to Dr. Barbara Schumacher, director of Health Services, the students affected are those that participated in the labs that took place from June 20-21 and 27-28 for the course.
Schumacher said the odds for having the diseases are five in 1 million for HIV, six in 100,000 for Hepatitis C, and three in 10,000 for Hepatitis B, for those who have been vaccinated against the disease and 1 in 1,000 for those who have not been vaccinated.
The risk came from a device used to sample the students’ blood in order to check their blood glucose levels. Schumacher said the experiment was completely optional for students and a new needle was used for each participant.
John Honek, chair of the UW chemistry department, said the experiment has previously been done using non-blood glucose solutions.
“In the past, simple water solutions containing glucose were used. Student suggestions to make the laboratory more relevant to real life resulted in an option to the particular experiment.”
Honek stated that lab experiments are typically chosen by the lab instructors and professors of the course. Because the staff members are highly qualified, they are usually allowed to develop the experiments with minimal supervision from the chemistry department.
In the case of the modified glucose experiment, Honek said students suggested the use of real blood to make the experiment more life-like, which resulted in the option being added to the spring 2012 term.
A similar incident was reported at Wilfrid Laurier University in August.