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November 09
2015 年 11 月 9 日

防護衣

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我最近參觀一家高科技公司,如常按要求先穿上密不通風的防護衣,再進入無塵室。防護衣、手套、帽子、長筒鞋,全是新的、一次用的,為了保護產品不受污染,嚴密防護。

這讓我想起在美國登機前的檢查。檢查員帶著手套,打開行李,翻箱倒櫃,卻不曾見他們換手套。有次在芝加哥,檢查員在檢查前面旅客的髒污衣褲、破臭鞋襪後,輪到檢查我的行李,他用那雙變色、有味的手套打開我的衛生包,隨意翻檢著我的牙刷、貼身用品……見如此情景,我只好跟他說:「不必摸了,留下吧,因為我都不要了。」這樣的防護是為了保護檢查員不受污染,但卻污染了眾多旅客。

我還有另一種穿防護衣的經驗。多次造訪日本福島及烏克蘭車諾比核電廠事故現場,必須穿上較厚的防護衣,一方面免除污染物沾上衣物、身體而不經意地帶出事故現場,另一方面,也可免得被污染物侵襲身體。這樣嚴密防護是為了保護身體不受污染,也保證受污染的環境不致因為訪客而擴大。

此外,我也到醫院看望過病人,被要求穿上防護衣,不知道是保護病人,還是保護探病者。不過,相對來說,似乎較不嚴謹。

以上情景雖然各不相同,其目的則完全相同。可是,不管怎麼看,「人」似乎都不是最重要的防護對象,至少大多數人都未曾得到應有的重視。

以第一個例子來說,機械比人重要;以第二個例子來說,檢查員比廣大的旅客重要;以第三個例子來說,當事人受到的保護遠不如機械在第一個例子裡所受到的重視;至於第四個例子,則似乎常常是隨隨便便,為了表示防護而穿著防護衣,未必如前面的例子那麼慎重處理。

註:本文曾載於聯合報(2015年10月26日)。


The virtue of protective clothing

I visited a high-tech company recently. As usual, we were asked to put on some air-tight protective clothing before we were ushered into a dust-free room. Everything was new and disposable, protective overalls, gloves, hats and galoshes, and the security check was very thorough, aimed at keeping products free of contamination.

This reminded me of the security check at the airports in the US. The security officers open your suitcases and lift the items inside for examinations, but you never see them changing their protective gloves at all. One time in Chicago, an officer went through a fellow passenger's bag filled with dirty laundry, before he started to check the items in my luggage. He opened my toiletry bag with his gloved hand and randomly went through my toothbrushes and under garments, etc. His gloves were not only discolored, they were smelly as well. Watching all this, I couldn't help saying to him: "No need to go any further. Keep everything. I don't want it anymore." Wearing gloves may protect air security officers from contamination but it contaminates passengers' possessions.

I have yet another experience related to protective clothing. During several of my visits to the nuclear accident sites at Fukushima in Japan and Chernobyl in Ukraine, I had to wear thick protective clothing. On the one hand, it kept our clothes and skin from contamination so that contaminants wouldn't be brought outside the enclosed area; on the other hand, it prevented contaminants from making inroads to our health. Such stringent protection measures serve to protect us from contamination and ensure that a contaminated area will not be enlarged.

I have also been asked to put on protective clothing during some of my visits to hospitals. I don't know whether it is meant to protect the patients or the visitors. But relatively speaking, such protective measures are never strictly enforced.

In spite of the difference in reasons, the purpose of such protective measures seems to be the same. No matter how you look at it, "human beings" don't seem to be the most important protection targets, at least the majority of them have not been given due attention.

In the first example, machinery seems to be more important than human beings; in the second, airport security officers are more important than the multitude of passengers; in the third, the protection humans get seems to fall far behind the protection given to machinery in the first example. With hospital visits, wearing protective clothing has never been treated with the same care as in previous examples.

Note:
This article was originally published in Chinese in the United Daily News (26 October, 2015).

9 November, 2015

 

 

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