Biohazard: An agent of biological origin that has the capacity to produce deleterious effects on humans, i.e. microorganisms, toxins and allergens derived from those organisms; and allergens and toxins derived from higher plants and animals.
Biosafety: The containment principles, technologies and practices that are implemented to prevent the unintentional exposure to pathogens and toxins, or their accidental release.
Biosecurity: Control of accidental and deliberate release of biohazardous material.
Would any of your project ideas raise safety issues in terms of Researcher Safety?
All team members had to participate in a general health and safety induction, where we learned handling biological material, aspects on chemicals, guidance in waste disposal of sharps, trace chemicals, and biohazardous material and the general protocols of the lab we work in. At all times while working in the lab, we were supervised by our advisor, part of the High school Science Department, or lab technician from the university’s School of Life Sciences Laboratory.
The lab we work in is classified as BSL 1 (biosafety level 1), according to the European Union Directive 2000/54/EG. Work inside a BSL 1 lab does not involve the use of potentially harmful materials to the researchers if they act corresponding to the general precautionary measures. Researcher should wear a lab coat, safety glasses and gloves and one must not drink, eat or smoke whilst working at the bench. The safety degree of the worn protection should depend on the chemicals and microorganisms handled. An important example is handling antibiotics and DNA coloring agents with gloves and safety googles. Most importantly, everybody should always be aware of what he is doing, with what kind of biological parts and chemicals he is working and how to handle them safely.
Would any of your project ideas raise safety issues in terms Public Safety?
We used different bacterial strains throughout our project. E. coli 10 beta, Top 10 and DH5 alpha; which are non-toxicogenic, disabled, non-pathogenic, non-colonising, laboratory-adapted K12 strains, which are widely used in research and present no hazard to human health.
In the lab, waste must be contained in a biohazard box with an autoclavable biohazard bag. Liquids must be inactivated either via chemical methods (e.g., with bleach) or using an autoclave. Solids that have been in contact with biohazardous materials should also be treated by autoclaving and then transfered into a different bag to indicate that the waste has been deactivated. Broken glass and needles should be disposed in a sharps container. Full and sealed sharps containers can be added to solid waste.
1. Do any of the new BioBrick parts (or devices) that you made this year raise safety issues? No extra safety issues were detected during the construction of our BioBrick part.
2. Did you document these issues in the Registry? Yes.
3. How did you manage to handle the safety issue? There weren't any safety issues.
4. How could other teams learn from your experience?
Other teams can find inspiration from our team because we are a small student group that had to work hard to find the economic support from sponsors and our own school. We faced many difficulties along the way, such as not having the adequate equipment to facilitate web lab activities and a lack of members to help in the project, but in the end everyone in the group joined together and decided to make this project work. This is an example of our team spirit, because even when the situation was against us or something didn't work out, we decided to make the best out of it and never gave up. Other teams may take us as an example of perseverance, and we could be a role model for other teams that are facing difficulties in any part of their project.
5. Is there a local biosafety group, committee, or review board at your institution?
The school has a person in charge of Health and Safety for each of the Laboratories. The technician was in constant contact with the team, supervising that the rules were being followed. We also adhered to our countries legislation in the Chamber of Deputies, the SAGARPA and the Law of Science and Technology from CONACyT. (the Law of Biosecurity for Genetically Modified Organisms, Nueva Ley DOF-18-03-2005) (http://www.diputados.gob.mx/LeyesBiblio/pdf/LBOGM.pdf )
6. Do you have any other ideas how to deal with safety issues that could be useful for future iGEM competitions? How could parts, devices and systems be made even safer through biosafety engineering?
In the assembly and distribution kit the iGem could include safety equipment such as a Laboratory Health and Safety Manual, gloves and googles samples. In the case of our project, we could include two resistance markers so the bacteria, if accidentally released, had less probability of subsisting.
Chart, et al (2000). An investigation into the pathogenic properties of Escherichia coli strains BLR, BL21, DH5a and EQ1. Journal of Applied Microbiology, 89, 1048-1058. URL: http://ors.uchc.edu/bio/resources/pdf/3.6.1.A_colipath.pdf Escherichia coli K-12 Derivatives Final Risk Assessment. Biotechnology Program under the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA). URL: http://epa.gov/biotech_rule/pubs/fra/fra004.htm