Personal Protective Equipment: aka PPEs, an Investigator’s best friend

Wow, okay, masterpost number 2 lovelies. We suck, sorry. But here we are, the long promised PPE post.

Why are PPEs necessary? Well, first of all, you don’t want your investigators to shed their own DNA all over the place and contaminate the crime scene. Even something as simple as coughing or sneezing can deposit trace DNA (which is why face mask is so important). Crime scene contamination means your evidence is no longer viable in court, and all the work done to process the scene was for naught. 

Another big reason why PPEs are necessary is because it protect investigators from biological hazards. Crime is a cesspool of diseases. Any blood or tissue sample found at the scene is treated as though it is a carrier of infectious diseases (oh boy there are many, think: Hep B, Hep C, HIV, just to name a few common scary ones).

There are a couple of ways an investigator can be exposed to hazards at a crime scene: absorption (through skin or mucus membranes, or eyes), ingestion (in your tummy it goes! There is a reason why labs highly discourage food and water), inhalation (breathing can be dangerous on the job apparently), and injection (beware of needles or sharp objects like glass while handling evidence).

Below are a few types of protection:

Respiratory protection, usually masks or self contained breathing apparatus.

Eye protection, goggles, protect eyes from contaminants or chemicals. Face shields too when necessary, especially when playing around with blood spatter.

Chemical protective clothing, inexpensive, disposable, difficult to tear but easy to get. The material traps heat so the wearer must take breaks to prevent heat stroke.

Hand protection, gloves, needed to be changed regularly, especially after handing individual evidence. Different gloves dependent on situation. Polyvinyl gloves are bad as they don’t provide protection against chemical or acids but are fine for powder and biological fluids. Latex gloves are good for powder and biological fluids, but are thin and must be discarded after single use. Double gloving is probably a good idea, although beware of latex allergies. Nitrile gloves are better than latex, provide more protection and are resistant to some chemicals. Neoprene gloves are chemical resistant and must be worn around chemicals (ie acids, alcohol).

Shoes covers, or booties, prevent investigators from tracking traces of the scene back home with them. This prevent investigators from potentially contaminating their home environment with biological hazards from the scene.

Lastly Sherls’ favourite - the bunny suit (tyvek coveralls). They are made of tyvek, which keeps all of the you in and all of the scene out. These come with and without hoods, and are the the WORST if it is even remotely warm wherever you have to wear them. You will sweat the MOST. But they protect from biologics of all kinds and some chemicals. 

For fun, heres a Sherls in a bunny suit, goggles, facemask and booties during a mock scene investigation from our first year of schooling. 

(Actually, PPEs are not just for investigators, a lot of professional fields will have some kind of PPEs or another) But yeah, thats the basics of it! Hope it helps!


Chlorosulfonation of an imidazole derivative with chlorosulfonic acid.

Why is this a special thing? Chlorosulfonic acid reacts with water explosively forming sulfuric acid and hydrogen chloride. So when I added 200 g of a compound to 500 cm3 of chlorosulfonic acid, a highly exothermic reaction happened and immediately and a highly acidic fog formed in the flask as the reactants contacted each other.

Important note when working with chlorosulfonic acid: NEVER WASH ANYTHING WITH WATER WHAT CONTAINS A RANDOM LIQUID, since if its chlorosulfonic acid, it could blow a highly acidic solution on your labcoat/hands/face. And always pour chlorosulfonic acid and reaction mixtures that contain this chemical on large excess of cracked ice to avoid serious problems.

P.S.: always wear proper PPE.


17:57 || 7/10/2015 || Oxford Day 6

Had a tour of the Philosophy & Theology library and signed up for way too many societies at the Fresher’s fair.
Excited for my first formal hall tonight!