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Science laboratories have a number of safety hazards that students and researchers need to be aware of in order to avoid injury and illness. In general, microscopes are a safe piece of science equipment. However, proper handling and care of a microscope will better ensure your safety and well being. The following safety tips will help prevent any unnecessary safety risks when using a microscope.
Wear Protective Clothing
Before you begin using a microscope, put on protective clothing. This includes a lab coat, a pair of safety glasses and a pair of disposable gloves. The slides you are examining under the microscope could contain dangerous chemicals or biological material so, it is important to protect all parts of your body.
Carry with Two Hands
To prevent damage to the microscope and to protect yourself from injury, always carry the microscope with two hands. Place one hand on the arm of the microscope and place the other hand underneath the base of the microscope. This method will give the microscope the most support. If you are walking with it, always hold it up high to avoid hitting tables or chairs. If you are not careful with the microscope and hit something, you could cause small pieces of the microscope to break off and create a tripping hazard.
Do Not Touch the Lens
Never touch the lens of the microscope with your bare hands. This could damage the functioning of the microscope. Instead, use a special lens paper to clean it. You may also use a soft cloth dipped in a small amount of isopropyl alcohol to clean the lens, according to the Utah State Office of Education.
Do Not Look into the Light
If you are using a microscope with a mirror, never use direct sunlight as a light source. This could cause eye damage when looking into the microscope. If you are using a microscope with a light, do not look directly into the light. This could cause eye damage as well. Also, remember to turn off the light of the microscope when it is not in use.
Be Cautious Handling Slides
Always be careful when handling glass slides and cover slips. If the slide or cover slip breaks, use protective gloves to clean up the broken glasses. This will help prevent cuts and contamination from slide contents. Dispose of the glass in a designated sharps container in the laboratory.
After you have finished using the microscope, always clean the slides off and wipe down the microscope with a damp cloth. According to the website, Sir-Ray.com, microscopes should be stored on the lowest objective with the nosepiece turned down to its lowest position. If you are using a microscope with a light, remember to turn off the light before unplugging it from the outlet. Then, cover the microscope with a dust cover and return it to the designated storage area.