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DBL%20Hendrix%20small.png College chemistry, 1983

Derek Lowe The 2002 Model

Dbl%20new%20portrait%20B%26W.png After 10 years of blogging. . .

Derek Lowe, an Arkansan by birth, got his BA from Hendrix College and his PhD in organic chemistry from Duke before spending time in Germany on a Humboldt Fellowship on his post-doc. He's worked for several major pharmaceutical companies since 1989 on drug discovery projects against schizophrenia, Alzheimer's, diabetes, osteoporosis and other diseases. To contact Derek email him directly: Twitter: Dereklowe

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January 9, 2013

Bright, Glowing Industrial Chemistry

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Posted by Derek

If you haven't seen it yet, this video tour through the DayGlo company's facilities is quite a sight. For us chemists, be sure to check out things at about the 5:30 mark, where they head into the wet chemistry area. You'll see some of the most well-used batch reactors you can picture (their largest one was bought used in the early 1970s, to give you some idea). As the chemist giving the tour says, "This is not like the pharmaceutical industry. . ."

Comments (19) + TrackBacks (0) | Category: Chemical News


1. Anonymous on January 9, 2013 1:14 PM writes...

The fine airborn polymer/pigment particles can be seen covering everything as a dust in the finishing plant. Amazing noone in the video was wearing PPE. At 3-5 um these particles could be respirable. Not like the pharma industry, indeed.

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2. Chemjobber on January 9, 2013 1:18 PM writes...

Glad I'm not the only one who wondered about that, anon. Also, combustible dust issues?

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3. EngelGW on January 9, 2013 1:33 PM writes...

I cannot believe it... How is it possible to care less about working conditions and people ? They aren't making candies.

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4. Anonymous on January 9, 2013 2:35 PM writes...

Interesting that the ACC produced this video showing those conditions. The 'multicolor factory' video name was an appropriate choice, I think.

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5. Kazoo Chemist on January 9, 2013 2:40 PM writes...

I was thinking along the same lines when I saw all of the dust everywhere and not even a simple paper mask in sight. I would like to see what the workers look like under UV light. I got to thinking about the UV light wands that dentists use to cure some filling materials. Shove one of those in these guy's mouths and you would be in for a surprise!

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6. Anonymous on January 9, 2013 3:02 PM writes...

Middle age working conditions...

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7. PharmaHeretic on January 9, 2013 3:04 PM writes...

Any thoughts?

"On 8 January, four health scientists accused of research misconduct are expected to file into a room at Saint Louis University in Missouri to conduct an experiment: can they be rehabilitated? Using pseudo­nyms if they wish, the four will discuss what they did wrong, why they did it and how they might stop it from happening again — all in an effort to see if they can re-enter the scientific mainstream."

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8. Indian Dye Chemist on January 9, 2013 3:27 PM writes...

more than 20 years ago, I worked on the shopfloor of a famous dyes industry in India and the conditions were exactly same as in the video; uniform, goggles, hard hat and that's all the PPE you get there. During solid material addition into reactors, you may slide a elephant trunk snorkel above the manhole, pick up a face/dust mask etc., for your protection

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9. Process on January 9, 2013 3:42 PM writes...

I'd like to point out that if you think their plant conditions are middle age, then you're not too familiar with a lot of manufacturing.

It's likely that everyone has access to PPE, but every worker might not use it. Should it be mandatory? Would it matter if it was?

Is exposure to these compounds really that hazardous? I think they're in many of products I use everyday, so I hope not. But the fine chemical industry doesn't do a lot of biological testing of their products, which is kind of a problem, aka plastics industry.

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10. Roofus on January 9, 2013 4:59 PM writes...

I enlarged the below poster and hung it in my office. Got out of the research game years ago. Glad I made that decision.

"America's PhDs on Food Stamps"


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11. Kazoo Chemist on January 9, 2013 5:02 PM writes...

"Process": Yes, these pigments may well be incorporated into thousands of products that you use daily. They are present in a matrix that has an impact on your exposure level. There is a world of difference between handling a solid piece of plastic that has some day-glo pigments in it like a Frisbee and breathing air that has five micron particles of those materials. That is a great size for inhalation and deposition in the lungs. These compounds serve their function by being superb at absorbing UV light. I am not so certain that I would want them (or their metabolites) in my skin absorbing sunlight and transferring the energy to heaven only knows what cascade of chemistry.

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12. Anonymous on January 9, 2013 5:15 PM writes...

Actually there were dust masks on two of the workers @ about 2:18 and @ about 7:29. Most of the footage appeared to be filmed during shut down conditions, which is about the only time a suit would walk around on the production floor talking to a camera. Working with those particles, I imagine it would have been very difficult to get decent footage during full scale production.

Having worked in the plastics and rubber industries here in the states for the past 15 years, I cannot say that anything in the video was actually shocking. I certainly would reserve judgement until seeing conditions during a full up batch run.

Although I will disagree with #9 above, at the plants where I have worked at, PPE was NOT optional.

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13. CombiKing on January 9, 2013 6:42 PM writes...

When I worked in Frankfurt Hoechst (HMR) now Sanofi, the Hoechst “dye fabrik people” were sent home with bed linens and towels provided by the company. The reason was that the dye would be excreted from the pours of their skin while sleeping or during a hot shower. The linens would be orange, red etc. in the morning. Who needs a painting to look cool under a black light when your Dad or Mom glows!

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14. Hans on January 10, 2013 5:43 AM writes...

Being a chemist who has worked in pharmaceutical industry, and now working in molecular photonics at a uni this is quite hilarious to see. This is NOT like anything in pharmaceutical industry, and luckily our labs here also don't resemble this plant. Though some of our PhD students are trying very hard...

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15. Quintus on January 10, 2013 10:26 AM writes...

Middle age, more like stone age. I'm surprised the ACS made this video it shows all the bad things about chemistry. They even mentioned explosion tested!!!
No way would I work there even if it was the last job on earth.

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16. Chrispy on January 10, 2013 12:29 PM writes...

I thought I was a careful chemist until the one time I happened to have a highly fluorescent and fluffy, electrostatic intermediate. I clapped on a UV light and the stuff was everywhere. Very sobering.

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17. MoMo on January 10, 2013 12:48 PM writes...

The guys in ties should be ashamed of themselves as managers and leaders of DayGlo. The place probably qualifies as a Superfund site now in addition to an ACS historic building.

I feel sorry for those blokes working in such hideous conditions while the managers run around in crisp clean shirts and ties.

Where are you OSHA?

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18. Brosylate on January 15, 2013 2:51 PM writes...

If you pause it at 6:22 you can see a worker has a respirator around his neck as he's walking away. I assume a tour guide wouldn't wear one since the public may think their product is a dangerous chemical. Doesn't excuse the dirty conditions but it shows they're not 100% fly-by-night.

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19. Chemjobber on February 14, 2013 11:42 PM writes...

I note that the video of the DayGlo factory has been made private. I think this is fascinating. The original blogpost from ACS has been removed as well.

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