So what can you get while working at the NIH? In the past we told you about your risk of exposure to Anthrax, Smallpox, and the Avian Flu Virus. Well, now you can add ricin and Burkholderia pseudomallei, two well-recognized biological weapons, to your shopping list!
The Washington Post is reporting that during a beefed up safety inspection, NIH employees unexpectedly found these and several other deadly biological agents improperly stored among old and long-forgotten stockpiles, some dating back over 60 years.
I must admit that, unfortunately, I have found the news much less shocking this time around than in the past. In fact, I believe that I have now gone through several of the classical stages of grief:
- Denial (it can’t be that the most respected scientific agency in the United States would irresponsibly allow the dangerous transfer of Anthrax to a low level bio-hazard lab)
- Anger (what the heck is wrong with the scientist that left Smallpox at the back of the freezer?
- Depression (we are all going to die from the Avian Flu virus)
- Acceptance (ricin, staphylococcal enterotoxin, Melioidosis…these are just some of the things you should expect to find at an unsecured government research facility)
There really isn’t much more to say. I applaud the fact that the NIH are trying to introduce measure to more strictly control these substances, but I am not sure that the system will ever be 100% foolproof. There are probably tens, if not hundreds, of dangerous materials floating around labs all over the US, (not to mention the rest of the world). Is this a reason to be scared? I think so. What about you?