Lab safety in Cuba | Chemical & Engineering News
Volume 95 Issue 22 | p. 3 | Letters
Issue Date: May 29, 2017

Lab safety in Cuba

Department: Letters
Keywords: opinion, letters

I just received my April 24 issue of C&EN and enjoyed reading about chemistry in Cuba (page 34). I am sympathetic to the sad reality that their chemistry efforts have been severely impacted for many years, and resources are extremely limited. However, there is no excuse for conducting laboratory work, or even being in a lab, without proper PPE [personal protective equipment]. The article does make three references to difficulties in providing safety equipment: “Cuban chemistry students, who have limited access to safety gear” (page 35), “access to safety gear is minimal to nonexistent” (page 37), and “like at Cuba’s universities, they lack protective eyewear” (page 38). This is obvious from inspection of photos on the front cover as well as on pages 1, 34, 35, 36, 37, and 39.

I’m actually surprised to see such photos in C&EN without a suitable editorial comment. Acknowledgement that availability of suitable PPE is severely limited does not make this practice acceptable. Local leadership should prioritize outfitting those in the labs with at least a simple pair of plastic safety glasses.

Editor’s note: Read why C&EN decided to run the photos on our blog the Safety Zone at

Juris Ekmanis
Clifton Park, N.Y.


May 1, page 28: Calysta can use directed genome evolution to manufacture its fish feed protein, but its current FeedKind product has not been genetically modified, as stated originally.

May 8, page 9: In the science brief on lignin, the sulfating reagent was missing an oxygen in the sulfur group. The reagent is a sulfate, –OSO3Na, rather than the sulfonate shown, –SO3Na.

May 8, page 14: PBF Energy, not BPF Holdings, is the name of the company that recently bought from ExxonMobil a refinery that was investigated by the U.S. Chemical Safety Board for a 2015 accident.

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