The greatest safety concerns that arose during our project surrounded the chassis used for both cloning and assaying our systems.
Specifically, our chassis encompassed two distinct biological safety levels: BSL1 and BSL2. Each level requires different safety protocols as well training, which students received from both the RIMS (Research Information Management System) program at Boston University and their mentors.
All cloning experiments were performed using Top 10 Chemically Competent E. coli on the benches of the BSL1 area of the laboratory. All scientists wore pants, closed toed shoes, lab coats, and gloves while working in these areas.
Our samples were either stored in parafilmed plates in the cold room, in -80 centigrade stasis, or were bleached. All chemicals used during the cloning process (i.e. miniprep waste and ethidium bromide gels) were disposed of in appropriately labeled waste containers located around the lab. Boston University has a solid waste management system which complies entirely with biological and chemicals disposal requirements.
The work with BSL2 materials centered around HEK293FT cells. While HEK cells are generally a BSL1 cell line, the addition of a SV40 virus into our cells increased the biological safety concern. SV40 poses a cancer risk to scientists who choose to work with it. The same personal protective equipment required for BSL1 were worn in the BSL2 Tissue Culture room, with new gloves being changed every time students stepped out of each lab space. Students were also required to wear state certified eye protection. In addition to bleaching all samples upon the completion of experiments, all work was conducted within biological hoods with media traps. Every surface within those hoods was sterilized both preceding and at the conclusion of work with 70% ethanol.