Glutaraldehyde, a cautionary tale

From: Katharine Thayer ^lt;[email protected]>
Date: 05/19/04-12:40:18 AM Z
Message-id: <>

Hello folks,

Two months ago or so I wrote to tell you of a horrifying experience that
came on the heels of using glutaraldehyde at 8%. After I shared that
experience, a friend wrote me privately to remark on my candor and my
careful account of the experience, saying most people wouldn't be that
open about something so personal. I thought, well, what else would a
person do -- I'm a scientist, that's what scientists do, we try to get
the data right, we try to eliminate other explanations, that's what we
do. What else could I do?

At the time of this incident, the likelihood of some other explanation
being responsible for the symptoms seemed remote, and in the absence of
other apparent reasons for the symptoms, I estimated the probability
that glutaraldehyde was responsible to be around 80-85% at the least.
Given that estimate, I felt I had a responsibility to report the
incident to all of you.

Yesterday I got some new data that require me to revise my estimate. Now
I would say that the probability of what happened to me being a result
of exposure to glutaraldehyde is closer to 15-20%.

I would rather not have written this letter, because it will give some
stupid folks a chance to jeer and insult me all over again. I would give
anything now not to have written that first letter, but I didn't know
then what I know now. At any rate, this is about the integrity of data,
and about how new data alter how one views things, and I cannot not
write it.

Katharine Thayer
Received on Wed May 19 07:36:55 2004

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