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A Safe Project

Since the Safety Level of the lab in our university that we worked in is Level 1, we carefully chose to work with E. coli DH5 alpha, a non-pathogenic chassis organism. The Shiga-like toxin we were investigating, however, is highly toxic due to its low LD50 and the A subunit’s protein synthesis inhibitory action, so it would have been too dangerous to work with given our lab environments. Keeping the validation process in mind, our team decided to use only the SLT B subunit as our method of verification.

A Safe Lab

Lab safety is taken very seriously at NYU Abu Dhabi. During the first few weeks into working on our project, every team member was required to participate in several lab safety training sessions. These sessions covered specific topics including the following:

  • How to use and check lab equipment properly
  • Location of specific lab and safety equipment
  • Use of personal protective equipment
  • Safety procedures and what to do in an emergency
  • Rules for working in labs

Outside of the lab environment, members went through EHS Lab Safety Training Lessons. Individually, student members watched a Lab Orientation Video that goes over the basic information of safety procedures. Members then read through a Hazard Communication document that explains hazard communication and other important safety information for safe lab work. Finally, members completed a quiz to confirm their full understandings of the material. The following is an outline of the included material:

  • Fire Safety
    • Note the Nearest Fire Exits and your escape routes.
    • If alarms sound leave the building immediately
    • Use the stairs, do not use the elevators.
  • Rules For Working in Labs
    • You must wear safety goggles at all times while doing experiments.
    • Bare feet or any type of open shoes or sandals cannot be worn into a chemical laboratory.
    • Always wear a labcoat.
    • In case of any accident or spill, notify the lab instructor immediately.
    • Eye injuries, whether chemical or mechanical, must always be considered serious.
    • Throw away cracked or chipped glassware immediately and obtain replacements.
    • Never eat or drink in the laboratory.
    • Do not touch any chemical with your fingers. Use a spatula to transfer solids and wear gloves when required.
    • Avoid breathing fumes of any kind.
  • Hazard Communication
    • Chemical Labels
      • What do they mean?
    • Sources of Information
      • Chemical Safety Cards
      • MSDS
    • Waste
      • Segregation
      • Storage and disposal
    • Other Hazards
      • Symbols and their meaning

    All of the rules were implemented and followed in the lab space, no matter what kind of experiment was being conducted. Everyone was aware of the safety procedures, and nobody took any risky actions during the lab work. We were accompanied by one of our Secondary PI’s, Joseph Koussa, who is also the safety officer of the lab we worked in, at all times.