Sunday, May 5, 2013
BONELUST BONE PROCESSING Q&A: I want to start collecting bones/animal remains but I'm concerned about disease.
What sort of safety precautions do you take while removing flesh from bone?
Good questions that I think not enough beginning bone collectors think about. Well obviously be super sanitary about each step of it. Here are some steps I take to stay sanitary:
Wear a respirator or at least a surgical/dust mask when you have concerns about airborne disease. I always wear high quality well fitted latex gloves when handling any remains until they are completely sanitary AFTER the hydrogen peroxide bath, which is the final step of processing. You can get every size imaginable in boxes of 100 on Amazon.com. You don't want cheap gloves tearing open while you're handling rotting carcasses. If you only have cheap gloves, double up.
Take care not to do processing where you eat or bathe. Every time I see a photo of a skull in a bathroom sink with their toothbrush and glass nearby I cringe. Keep your processing tools separate from your kitchen tools AND wash separate. Yes, these things would seem like common sense but I've seen bone collectors do things you wouldn't believe. Also, do not let your pets drink maceration water, peroxide bath or chew on dead things. I've seen far too many photos where people think this is funny. It can be VERY bad for your pets to do any of these things. Would you let your child drink/chew on these things???
Also, wash your hands/arms, hair and clothes/shoes after possible contamination. After I've gotten myself into some REALLY nasty stuff I put my clothes (shoes included, I wear Chucks so I can) into the wash and take a shower myself. When you're working on maceration tubs or handling dead animals you can expect a certain amount of contamination of your clothes/shoes. Splashback from maceration baths is very common. If you have long hair like me, take care to pull it back and keep it out of the nastiness. Likewise, wash down your processing work area and maceration tubs after use. The only time I use chlorine bleach in relation to bone processing is when I clean out maceration tubs when they get really bad. Although most of the time I let everything sun sanitize. Because I don't want bleach killing off my maceration bacteria colonies. So if you do use bleach rinse VERY well.
When picking up dead animals to process watch out for gases and liquids escaping the body. Which will almost always happen when you move the body. If you don't have latex gloves with you use a plastic bag to handle it and flip it right into that same bag. Don't lay dead animals in your car without a plastic bag or you'll be sorry. That smell will stay around and leave a very unsanitary stain where it laid. Keep hand sanitizer, gloves, and bags in your car so you're always prepared.
I could go on but that covers the basics and a little extra, just use common sense. Stay safe and sanitary friends.