Mystery of the Yellow Syringes

Photograph of yellow syringes


Yellow syringes?” you say to yourself. “Syringes are usually, well, pretty colorless.” That’s exactly the thought I had. My follow-up thought was that it wouldn’t be hard to find out about yellow syringes, since they certainly seemed to be unique. As it turns out, my first thought was right on, while my second thought was slightly off. After exhaustive searching thorough the Becton Dickinson catalog (see that nifty BD tell-tale symbol?), where I was sure the yellow syringes would be the stand-out ones, I turned to the experts: the archivists at Becton Dickinson. The excellent work by Mae Savas revealed that these syringes had changed color from clear to yellow during the sterilization process. Because of this quirk, the syringes never actually made it to market. Wait, never made it to market? Then how did they end up in the UT Health Science Center Medical Artifacts collection…and so the mystery continues. Drop us a line if you have a lead.

Amy Nurnberger, Public Services Intern