General Safety Procedures

The Dalhousie iGEM team completed biosafety training and WHMIS prior to starting work in the lab under the instruction of graduate mentors. Biosafety and WHIMIS were administered as an extensive online curriculum that covered topics such as:
  • Personal Protective Equipment (such as gloves, lab coats and safety goggles) in which our team has been committed to
  • Chemical waste: all waste was autoclaved and disposed in its appropriate container by members of the Dalhousie iGEM.
  • Laboratory acquired infections

    In addition to the general safety training, the Dalhousie iGEM laboratory was equipped with 2 fire extinguishers, a spill kit, eye wash stations, and a safety shower.

    All Dalhousie iGEM members successfully completed the online training and obtained their WHIMIS and biosafety training certificates. The team also underwent subsequent laboratory training pertaining to our project.

    Project specific safety procedures

    The Dalhousie iGEM mentors conducted multiple dry workshops to go through project specific laboratory protocols with all members prior to conducting any experiments. After that, all members were trained for all protocols at the supervision of the mentors in the laboratory.
    In addition, our project required some additional safety measures such as:

    • Operating a UV light box: Our project required the use of a UV light box to visualize the PCR product for cloning, therefore training on how to use the UV was essential to avoid burns and over exposure that might lead to cancer.
    • Bunsen burners: Aseptic techniques were required for sterile bacterial growth therefore members only turned on the gas of the Bunsen burners when necessary and turned off when done. All flammable materials were kept away when the Bunsen burner was on and personal protective equipment where worn at all times.
    • Bacterial culture handling: Our project used Escherichia coli as a chassis. The organism is in Risk Group 1 which is classified as a low-risk bacteria that do not cause any disease in healthy individuals. Protocols for higher safety level organisms (such as those possibly found in fecal material) and more hazardous procedures (such as phenol-chloroform DNA extractions) were performed in a BSL2 lab equipped with a fume hood and Class II - Type A2 Biosafety Cabinet. Fecal samples were handled in the context of a BSL2 space with appropriate containment procedures (ie. working in a Class II - Type A2 Biosafety Cabinet) due to their possibility of containing pathogens.