Lauren Frampton is a chemist. She mixes chemicals for a living! If that isn’t interesting… we don’t know what is. Lauren took the time out of her dangerous day to discuss the job requirements for being a full-time mad scientist.
BOJ: What Kind of chemistry do you practice!?
LF: I work for a company called Metrex, that is one of the two branches made by Sybrondental.
We make disinfectants for medical and dental offices.
LF: There are people who are engineers and they create the solutions in tanks that vary from 5k to 10k batches and I test the product by doing various lab procedures such as pH, autotitrations, HPLC (high performance liquid chromatography), micro analysis, surface tension, GC scans (gas chromatography) , TOC (total organic carbon counts), conductivity, and lastly IR spectrometry.
BOJ: Sounds important! So how did you get involved in chemistry as a career?
LF: I got involved in chemistry at school and just really liked it. I had a lot of experience doing lab work for my bio-medical classes.
BOJ: All those tests – what do they determine?
LF: Those tests give us results that prove what we put in our disinfectants is what is on the label, basically, and making sure the raw materials we use are good to go.
BOJ: What is a daily routine for you at the lab?
LF: I start at 2 p.m. and check the bench. The bench is where all the products that need to be tested are put. I have to listen for the union workers on the line because every product that goes through the line needs an audit to make sure that have the right codes on the labels and boxes. The bench also has papers sometimes stacked on it from the shipping department and those sheets are raw materials that need to be sampled and tested and then released. Also there is a corner of the bench dedicated to the batching room where the bulk samples are placed when they are made for testing.
BOJ: Does your job present any hazards? Is being a chemist dangerous?
LF: Well, of course, yes. Some of the raw materials we collect are very corrosive, I have received chemical burns before. We also frequently get IPA or glutaraldehyde tankers that we have to sample and connect to the pipes that take them to their appropriate tanks. Those two chemicals are very flammable. Probably 90% of the chemicals we use are flammable and corrosive. Actually, our top selling product (cavicide) is considered a drug in Canada, so we have to do even further testing when we ship to Canada. We are highly regulated by the FDA because of this. It’s considered a drug because it’s so high in alcohol.
BOJ: What kind of equipment do you use?
LF: We have to use respirators and eye goggles depending on what chemical we sample and we have to wear a whole flammable suit. It’s very sexy.