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An eyewash station (also known as eyewash unit) is a piece of lab equipment used to wash the eyes in the unfortunate event hazardous chemicals (and not just) have entered in contact with the eye. Eyewash units are vital in the event of a lab accident, as damaging your eyesight during lab work is a very serious injury.
Eyewash stations are equipped with two small showers arranged in a goggle-like setup, which rests on a draining sink. Tap water is used to wash the eyes, though more special eyewash units can use sterile saline solutions. To protect them from dust and other debris, the eye showers are generally covered with a rubber covering, which is easy to remove. A lever is used to activate the showers. Some eyewash stations are part of safety showers.
Smaller eyewash units come with two plastic bottles filled with either distilled water or saline solutions, which can be stored in more accessible areas of the lab. Sole eyewash bottles also exist.
Eyewash units should be placed in an easy accessible area in the lab, preferably away from any lab bench and reagents.
How to use an eyewash station
- Take off the rubber lids covering the eye showers
- Place your eyes inside the eye shower "goggles" and keep them open
- Activate the showers by pressing the station lever/tap
- Wash the eyes until the threat is reduced or removed
Eyewash units can be purchased from lab suppliers or online.
DIY eyewash station
A simple eyewash station can be made by connecting two small water showers to fit the eye positions and connect the setting to a water sink.
Eyewash stations can only be used for removing hazardous materials that have entered in contact with the eye, and if the injury persists after eyewash, IT'S IMPERATIVE THAT YOU MUST GO TO THE DOCTOR!
If you're eyewash uses tap water, this may further irritate the eye. You could use distilled water to rinse the eyes, though it's best to use distilled water that was made under inert atmosphere if possible, as distilled water that was exposed to atmospheric air will have absorbed lots of CO2, which makes the water too acidic, and may further irritate the eye. A better idea would be to use saline eye wash, which is designed specifically to be less irritant to the eye.
Eyewash stations should have visible labeling sign showing the location of the units, and the path towards them must be clear.