Below is my reply to Eileen regarding her continued objections over "Bodies: The Exhibition", its practices, and my defenses of them. Her quotes from Lettercol #392 are highlighted, my responses follow.
"There are different rules and regs and fees and health inspections for
Absolutely, and my point is that these regs/fees/shipping/handling
requirements/ etc, are outdated because Plasination (when done properly)
removes the health threat that they would otherwise pose. I feel that
pending some sort of official approval of the successful plastination of a
specimen, they should no longer be required to be treated as biohazardous.
"I might point you to the San Francisco fiasco when these plastinated bodies
began to leak, silicone and body fluids. Indeed, pathogens dangerous to
human health were found in this fluid and that is why the SF city council
threw them out and banned such exhibits."
Plastination performed correctly simply does not do this. The fluids found
leaking from these poorly-plastinated specimens were uncured silicone with
SUPPOSEDLY traces of liquified body fat. Or at least that's how the media
reported it when they "had it checked by experts" (ABC7). When the state
did its own tests, only reports of the silicone was officially reported by
the state. By that point the media was in a frenzy on the subject, and
false reports came from all over the place.
"They are NOT stable unless handled in a certain manner ie. temp, humidty,
hot lights, etc. will begin deterioration of these bodies.."
This is a standard "cover-your-ass" document, and shouldn't be accepted as
reliable. There ARE limits to the conditions these specimens can withstand,
which is true of just about anything, but considerig the fluid is gone from
a properly plastinated specimen, if the silicone somehow "fails", they are
approximately as hazardous as freeze-dried beef jerky.
"If this process was stable forever, they would not be cremating them upon
return to China"
The plastination group responsible for these specimens has literally
hundreds of volunteer bodies. The process is evolving, and their surgical
accuracy improves all the time. Yes, the bodies eventually decay too, but
not in the puddled rotten mess you might envision. The silicon begins to
breakdown slightly. It weakens and discolors, the flesh underneath will also
discolor as it is permeated by the silicon, and may be forced to wrinkle as
the silicon's strength fades and various new torsion weights are applied by
the body. Plus, when a body is improperly plastinated, there's no chance to
"try again" on the same body. When any of these happen, it's time to
"retire" the old body. This is also true of the bodies that had
"questionable" beginnings in Chinese mental institutions. It's far easier
to start new with new bodies than to argue points over existing ones. Why
store bodies that places won't let you show if you can simply drop a new one
into the exhibit?
Also, you mentioned that stagehands complained for 6 months about the body
conditions. Ask your husband [a doctor] what condition a cadaver would be in if left
under similar propped-up conditions for 6 months. Better yet, even 90 heat
hours.. If he's unversed in heat hours, suggest he checks out the body farm
where the concept of "heat hours" originate from. There would be little to
complain about after that. Those plastinated bodies receive much more than
90 heat hours under the display lamps, day in ad day out.
In any event, one final try at explaining my position.. You have to handle a
regular corpse with kid gloves because they're fairly delicate in terms of
already being unstable hazardous material/ disease control, etc. With
plastinated models, you barely need to handle them with care at all, so why
pay all the fees and follow the regulations associated with regular corpses?
If you have a valid reason, than consider this... If they followed all of
the rules you want them to follow, they might as well use regular corpses
instead, and plan on replacing them daily under the display lamps. The
regulations would reguire anyone attending to have hazmat training and be
wearing hazmat approriate apparel.
Can you not envision a difference here? Those regular requirements are
inappropriate to the plastinated specimens.
Well either that, due to my exposure, along with 1000's of others exposed to
this exhibit (in Florida alone) I'm dying from all the infectious material
in the exhibit. Look out, everybody panic.
Find me a case where someone exposed to the exhibit has "come down" with
something as a result of coming into contact with a plastinated specimen in
that exhibit, and then perhaps we could continue this discussion on the
basis of evidence and proof as opposed to theories and media
Otherwise, I simply have to rest my case on that alone.