Safe Project Design
When developing our project we were careful to implement safety precautions in our design. For our biosensor and our probiotic we were sure to use safe bacteria. For the biosensor, we researched potential bacteria options with the limitations that it could not be pathogenic, or known to cause an illness in humans. The bacteria chosen was Bacillus Subtilis, and fits the safety parameters we established. The probiotic picked, Lactobacillus rhamnosus GG, is already being sold as a probiotic, and it is a Generally Recognized as Safe organism by the FDA. For consistency, Bacillus Subtilis was also used for the probiotic because of its known lead binding capabilities. In addition to making sure we the bacteria used in our project would be safe for the public, we researched how our probiotic would be classified by the FDA, and the associated safety regulations. We found that because the bacteria would be forced evolved to uptake more lead, our probiotic would be considered genetically engineered. This means it would be classified by the FDA as a recombinant Live Biotherapeutic Product, and require strict testing required when introducing genetically engineered therapeutics into the market.
Safe Lab Work
Before stepping into the lab our team attended safety training. We always wore lab goggles, gloves, lab coats, closed-toe lab shoes, and long pants when working in lab. One of the safety issues involving our project was preventing lead exposure. We needed to both work with lead and be able to appropriately dispose of it. When measuring lead for the lead water stocks, we were careful to work with the balance in the hood and to use respirators to prevent any inhalation exposure. When actually working with the lead in solution, we were always careful of following the appropriate safety precautions, like wearing gloves, safety goggles, and washing our hands. Lead was used in plates, liquid cultures, and water stocks. In disposing of liquid stocks, the liquid was collected, and kept in specific waste containers that were both in the hood, and in two forms of containment. When the bottles were full, they were promptly collected by the hazardous waste team at WPI. The plates were disposed of in hazardous waste.
Our team did not encounter any safety problems when sending our DNA to the parts Registry.