In research, many risks of injuries, contamination and the release of dangerous substances or organisms into the environment, exist. Therefore, researches performed by this year's iGEM Team Stuttgart were conducted according to the iGEMs safety policies and rules.
As lab Safety is an important aspect of lab work, every team member had a safety instruction before start working in the laboratory. This included save handling of dangerous chemicals and their disposal, how to act in case of an emergency and how to protect yourself during experiments through specific clothing items and behaviour. We made sure, every team member knew where to find fire extinguisher, means of escape and first aid kits.
Furthermore, every team member was given an introduction regarding the proper use of the technical devices including centrifuges, autoclaves, incubators, benches, heat blocks and other devices.
Safe lab work:
For safe work, every team member was provided a lab coat, safety goggles and gloves which were worn throughout lab work.
Before starting an experiment for the first time, an instructor was asked for the proper experimental setup.
Every experiment with dangerous chemicals which could for example emit aerosols causing damage to respiratory tract was performed under an exhaust hood. Dangerous chemicals were replaced by non-dangerous ones whenever possible. Before using chemicals, the respective H and P sentences were read and considered during experiments.
Handling of organisms:
Each experiment was performed in a laboratory on biosafety level 1, in order to handle gene manipulated organisms. In our project we used Escherichia coli DH5α, Vibrio natriegens DMS 759, Corynebacterium glutamicum and Bacillus subtilis. To ensure that environment was not exposed to possibly harmful organisms, every sample containing a gene manipulated organism was collected in a separate garbage and autoclaved. Work with bacteria was carried out under a sterile bench. Also, we used Chlorella vulgaris and Chlorella sorokiniana being two algae which are completely safe to handle and non-dangerous to humans or nature. Our algae were cultivated in a self-build airlift bioreactor. Instructors who are very experienced in building bioreactors provided advises and accompanied the working process to ensure safe handling.
In our collaboration project we sent samples of our self-produced PhyCoVi medium to other teams in Germany. The packages contained harmless substances, anyway we wanted to make sure that nothing would be spilled. Since liquids could leak out of the vessel, we decided to send powder instead. To avoid the cracking of the tube, we packed it in bubble foil.