Thursday, March 1, 2018

No floor waxing in the mass spec room!! A cautionary note...

I used to have a job where I got on a plane every week and I flew out to a different lab and hung out with awesome mass spectrometrists for 2 or 3 days just helping them do whatever they were doing. I met a lot of great people and I got to learn from experts in over 100 different labs.

I also got to see about a hundred signs that said "do not wax and strip the floors in this room!"

I'm back in a lab of my own for like 8 weeks or something and I come in to see a sign that says at 4am they'll be stripping and waxing the floors in the room where a QE and QE HF are!!  Fortunately, I survived the heart attack and was able to think rationally before annoying a lot of people.

Rational (though elevated serum troponin level) Ben thought "maybe we're all just really paranoid (mass spectrometrists, that is, I've been told by outsiders we're a unique subset of humanity, maybe paranoia is in that list of traits).  I've never researched it. Go to Scholar and check and..."

A cautionary note?!?!  (Link). The subtitle should be "throw yourself in front of that floor waxing machine, it will do less damage to you that way"! 

This team picks up tons of small molecule background contaminants from waxed floor. And, since the formulation is proprietary they even find some stuff that persists (post waxing -- post 2 floor rinses!) that is in the range I isolate peptides that they don't know what it is and can't identify that are also still hanging around.  That C-trap is only gonna hold 3e6 ions in MS1 -- if 1e6 of them are waxing compounds...?  Ion suppression! 💀  Even worse, it looks way more detrimental for our small molecule instruments (loads of weird things in the low mass range!) -- and the new EMR. No quad to isolate -- so everything/anything that will ionize is effectively causing ion suppression...💀💀💀 I get to be the new guy in the building who is bugging the very nice maintenance staff and trying to find out what they're going to strip and wax the floor with and --- guess what? proprietary! no MSDS? is that a safe working environment to not know what you're working with? Who is verifying there are carcinogens in them? That is a different problem for a bit later. Short story is we now have a "no waxing the floor" sign up and you should as well!

Probably worth noting that the impact on proteomics looks minimal in this analysis and this team doesn't do a longitudinal release assessment or anything. I do wonder if you could go through ProteomeXchange and look for these background compounds. Even if you don't strip/wax directly in front of the instruments -- you know this is out in the hall somewhere....

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