"It's the safety dance" - Men Without Hats
At WashU, the two labs we work in are classified as Safety Level One, only working with organisms included in Risk Group one. These are organisms that would not cause disease in humans if exposed. In our project, we specifically used the DH10B and MG1655 strains of E. coli, along with the 6803 strain of Synechocystis. The genes that we extracted or inserted into these organisms produced ATP or electron donors, neither of which are harmful or hazardous products.
Our team members have gone through extensive, university-wide safety training in order to work in the lab. This includes lab safety standards, safety equipment training, and hazardous waste disposal. Safety equipment in our labs includes gloves, lab coats, goggles, safety showers, eyewash stations, and fire extinguishers. We disposed of hazardous material in appropriately labeled containers, depending on what the substance or object was. Cultures of bacteria were also bleached and disposed of accordingly.
When making gels to run gel electrophoresis, we used SYBR Safe and ethidium bromide, both hazardous to humans. Both can have carcinogenic effects, as they bind the human DNA and have the potential to be toxic. While SYBR Safe is less dangerous than ethidium bromide, similar safety precautions are used: lab coats, goggles, and gloves must be worn, specific designated containers and instrumentation is used, and all disposables used during this procedure are thrown away in a specific hazard container.
Sterility and cross contamination were considered during all of our experimentation. All cultures of bacteria were worked with in a biosafety hood, in order to avoid contamination of our samples. Also, long-term master mixes of solutions or sterile water were refilled or made in this environment. Proper sterile techniques were practiced when using pipettes and transferring between containers.