Health and Safety
Our team has been working in the Molecular Biology Research laboratories in the School of Bioscience at Cardiff University. Research carried out in these laboratories includes plant cell biology, basic microbiology, molecular biology and genetic engineering.
Use of group 1 microorganisms - Escherichia coli and Agrobacterium tumefaciens
Handling of hot liquids
Use of gel electrophoresis equipment
Storage of samples in the -80 °C freezer
Use of top loading autoclave
Hand held UV source
Use of sharp equipment
Use of centrifuges
Before beginning our work, we were given a health and safety briefing by our supervisor (Geraint Parry) which allowed us to appreciate any potential risks associated with the lab side of our project.
At our safety induction, these were the main hazards discussed;
Use of strong acids and bases
Use of chemical mutagens
Use of phenolics
Use of flammable chemicals around open flame source
Use of liquid nitrogen
Use of toxic chemicals
Experimental design to reduce risk
For cloning/movement of genetic material we have used a group 1 microorganism, a non-pathogenic strain of E.coli - DH5α
Transformation of bacteria was carried out using a heat shock approach rather than the more dangerous electroporation procedure
Unusual experiments/safety issues
The use of the chemical B-ME during His-tag purification of the TSHantag. B-ME is a highly toxic and corrosive chemical which is capable of damage to internal organs if inhaled. Any work involving B-ME was carried out within a fume cupboard
Infiltration of plants with Agrobacterium tumefaciens was carried out in an isolated work space to avoid unintended contact between Agrobacterium and other plants within the lab
The use of liquid nitrogen involved careful handling and disposal within a fume cupboard
Safe lab work
The team was very conscious about lab safety, and always used the relevant safety equipment where appropriate.
Protective equipment including safety glasses, lab coats and gloves
Fume hoods used where necessary
No food or drink in the lab
Thoroughly disinfecting hands before exiting the lab
Clean/uncluttered work spaces
Autoclaving all waste and equipment before and after use
Hair tied back
Immediately cleaning up spillages
The use/production/disposal of genetically modified organisms was regulated adhering to UK and EU legislation regarding genetic modification.
Waste management:General waste – Re-used and recycled where possible, otherwise destined for landfill.
Chemical waste – Disposed of following the Cardiff School of Biosciences chemical waste disposal system. Gaseous waste was released into a fume hood before correct disposal of the container.
Biological waste – A large amount of microbial and plant waste was generated from our time in the lab, this was auto-claved or incinerated where appropriate.
Any waste generated from our time in the lab was disposed of depending on the category of the waste: