Team:NTNU Trondheim/Safety


Safety have been an important part of our project. This includes safety with respect to ourselves, colleagues and the environment. In our project we have been working closely with bacteriophages. Extra care have therefore been made to prevent contamination of other bacterial cultures in lab and spread of the virus.

Safe Project Design

Safety is important in our project design. At NTNU we have tools and guidelines to help us create a safe working environment in the lab.

In our project, we are only working with non-pathogenic chassis, that is, E. coli of the strain DH5α and bacteriophages (phages) that target this strain. DH5α is competent cells that are used in general cloning. Genetically modified DH5α cells were never taken out of the lab. Phages are natural predators of bacteria, and do not target humans, animals or plants. Because phages target bacteria, we are careful to wash and clean the lab benches and equipment, which have been in contact with phages, with sodium hypochlorite, and use safe storage to store the phages (tubes with screw cap). The parts BBa_K325909 (bronze) and BBa_K2265000 (silver) that were chosen to work with, promoters, terminators and other regulatory sequences were of low risk to humans, because they were found in prokaryotes. The project does not involve other chemicals or factors that are of risk to humans or the environment. Overall, we are convinced that our project is safe to work with as long as we are carefully follow the safety rules and regulations.

Safe Lab Work

Prior to the lab work, we had an introduction to the lab, use of equipment, different bench areas, and waste treatment by the Health, Safety and Environment instructor at the department of Biotechnology and Food Science. We also filled out Risk assessment forms that made us aware of the different safety measures corresponding to the different lab activities. We worked in a safety level 2 lab, but only needed equipment for safety level 1. The phages were therefore kept away from the work spaces of other researchers. DH5α is in risk group 1 and do not cause any harm to humans.

In the lab, it is mandatory to wear a cotton coat to limit contamination of genetically modified organisms, and of course protect yourself. Other than a cotton coat it is important to wear safety goggles in the restricted areas, for instance, in the gel lab and in the fume hood where we handle hazardous chemicals (chloroform). Nitrile gloves were used for all lab work, and vinyl gloves could also be used to protect the sample, but they do not give the same protection as nitrile gloves. The lab benches were washed with 70 % ethanol to prevent bacterial contamination, while sodium hypochlorite removes bacteriophages. 70 % ethanol was used to clean the sterile fume hood, together with UV-light. As a good habit, we regularly washed our hands, especially after working with bacteria. When taking out equipment or big containers from the autoclave we used thermal-resistant gloves and eye protection. As a basic rule we were not allowed to consume food or beverages in the lab.