Dangerous defect found in science building

Students health put at risk

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Dangerous defect found in science building

Melissa Maria Martinez, Times Staff

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A student at City College discovered the fume hoods that provide a space for students to conduct lab experiments with chemicals that can be harmful if inhaled have not all been functioning properly.

Kevin, a 23-year-old chemistry major was conducting an experiment for organic chemistry in room 209 of the science building. Kevin’s real name has been withheld at his request.

“I was waiting for my solution to oxidize, it was boiling and I was looking at the hoods to pass the time,” Kevin said.

That’s when he noticed the regulation sticker with red wording that read “This is not certified.” As his professor walked by he asked her why some hoods were certified and some were not.

After his professor examined all the lab hoods, she found only three that did not have the red wording.

“This raises lots of concerns because during our lab experiments, we were dealing with something called PCC, Pyridinium chlorochromate, and this is very carcinogenic (causes cancer). It’s a toxic chemical; even if you just take a whiff it can be dangerous for your lungs.” Kevin said.

Chemistry professor Iyun Lazik confirmed that an email was sent to college administrators Friday Oct 14 to try to understand the status of the hoods.

“We were doing experiments without knowledge that they (the hoods) were not working,” Lazik said. “We found out about it by chance because we could actually smell the chemicals in the lab, and if they were working we should not have been able to smell anything.”

Chemistry professors learn that college administrators already knew about the hoods and informed their students.

“I think it’s pretty irresponsible for the college to not repair what they knew was broken, especially something that has to do with the safety of the students,” 23-year-old biochemistry major Andrew Peinado said. “I had no idea they were broken all of last semester and I dealt with a lot of toxic chemicals that I thought I was safe from; a few years from now we will find out if I actually was.”

Iriana Luna, president of the Associated Student Government at SJCC is satisfied with the actions the college is taking to address the hoods.

“The hoods were being tested last week and they should be getting fixed as soon as possible,” Luna said.

Vice President of Administrative Services Jorge Escobar said it is a maintenance issue that the college is addressing.

“The district is actively seeking to fix the hoods with the proper authorized technical provider,” Escobar said.

Since students have been made aware of the problem all the hoods have been shut off and they are no longer able to run their experiments on campus until the hoods are fixed.