A team of scientists from the Australian Antarctic Division (AAD) has turned spare laboratory chemicals into hand sanitiser for those in need during the COVID-19 crisis in Tasmania.

Dirk Welsford, who leads the Antarctic Conservation and Management Program, was doing his regular walk around when colleague and analytical chemist, Dr Lauren Wise, mentioned she had some spare capacity to help with responding to the pandemic.

“I had come from a meeting where the general shortage of sanitiser was discussed and asked Lauren if she would be interested in making hand sanitiser from spare chemical stocks,” Mr Welsford said.

The sanitiser comprises ethanol, glycerol, and hydrogen peroxide in a prescribed mixture.

Dr Wise teamed up with Science Technical Support Officer, Imojen Pearce, to get the chemicals together, source containers and provide the safety checks using a recipe provided by the World Health Organisation.

AAD’s Graphic Designer, Jessica Fitzpatrick, designed some special “Ice-O-Lotion” labels to give the sanitiser an Antarctic touch.

Around 25 litres has been provided to the Salvation Army to support their services.

“It’s really difficult to get any sort of supplies at the moment, said Don McCrae, team leader of housing, homelessness, and corrections at The Salvation Army in Hobart.

“Instead of shutting up shop, we’re actually working out on the frontline with people and trying to support them where they need it most.”

“I think this enables us to continue those safe working practices to make sure our areas of work are safe and sterile, and that ourselves and our clients are minimised from any exposure and any harm,” Mr McCrae said.

Dirk Welsford said he was personally gratified to be part of the AAD’s contribution.

“We’re all thinking about the impacts that the pandemic is having on the community, and we’re a part of the community, so working with the Salvos to try and ease some of the shortages that they’re facing is a great thing,” he said.