Team:UM Macau/Safety

Lab Safety


Safety is of critical importance for iGEM, which not only to protect ourselves and others but also to facilitate us in making our project SANCE smoothly. As undergraduate scientists, by strictly following the rules and taking sufficient lab activities training in advance, we are able to avoid those unnecessary accidents.

Our Space

All of our experiments were done in Research Building North22 in University of Macau. We worked under a biosafety level 1 space with our own open bench and shared incubators and fridges with other labs.

Fig 1. Research Building North22

Fig 2. Our own bench

Chassis Organism

Our team would demonstrate a proof of concept of a controllable nanoparticle collector microorganism named SANCE which capabilities in collecting nanoparticle will be applied in the wastewater treatment by removing possible nano-pollutants, particularly those undegradable pollutants that are very difficult to be degraded in the liquid. We plan to use various E.coli bacteria strains such as Stbl3, DH5 alpha, BL-21 DE3, BL-21 Star, BL-21 Rosetta, BL-21 pLys and TOP10 for testing our three functional parts.


Escherichia coli is a type of bacteria that normally lives in the intestines of healthy people and animals. It is a very commonly used in laboratory environments and research. Normally the strains that we are using would be harmless if properly handled, however they could pose health problems like diarrhea should we ingest them in large quantities. Another possible health risk that our chassis could pose is through the conversion of L-tyrptophan to Indole which is a characteristic of E.coli. Indole is a kind of noxious chemical product which might leads to health problems if we are exposed to it a lot especially if the person exposed has a weakened immune system. Our chassis will also be transformed by plasmids containing having antibiotic resistance genes against Ampicillin and Kanamycin, therefore our modified chassis has higher survivability compared to unmodified Escherichia coli. This could pose serious health risks and could contribute to the threat rise of antibiotic resistant bacteria in our day of age. The presence of Escherichia coli that has higher survivability outside the laboratory could potentially destabilize ecosystem and to certain extent could be passed down along the food chain and be consumed by people.

But don't worry, we can handle that!

In our institution, a well-established administrative body regularly checks all laboratories whether they meet the Lab Safety Rules and Guidelines under Research Services and Knowledge Transfer Office (RSKTO) [1] and Faculty of Health Sciences (FHS) Office [2] of the University of Macau. For our team, our laboratory activities are constantly being supervised by PhD students who are very familiar in handling bacteria and the overall safety guidelines that we should be aware while working. These experts supervised our lab activities all the time and they made sure that we follow the protocols exactly as what we have written and were instructed, should there be a need to modify some part of the protocols and then they guided us accordingly. Having experts’ supervision, we highly minimized the possibility of accidents happening during our lab works.

Based on the biosafety guidelines, it is important to provide training and to educate our lab members before we start any experiments involved chemical reagents that might be harmful to our health. We should be familiar with the characteristics of the organisms and chemical reagents that we use, as well as understand the probability of being harmed if we are exposed or have direct contact with these materials. Our lab members should be well-trained and carry out experiments under supervision of lab staffs or PhD students who are more experienced in lab activities. Protocols and procedures that we carefully designed before starting experiments can help us to conduct experiments in more organized and systematic way.

We should be aware of Personal Protective Equipment which is one of the important lab guidelines, for example gloves, long pants, close-toed shoes, and lab coats which must be worn at all times during lab works in order to protect ourselves from the chemical reagents we used that can harm our health or cause infections if direct skin contact happens. Some details during lab activities also require our attention. For instance, the alcohol flame can be a high potential cause of fire. Books or any materials which are highly flammable are advised not to put on the bench; it can be put underneath the bench to lower the risks. Gloves should be removed aseptically and hands must be washed after experiments.

The other lab guidelines that we should also be familiar with include Standard Microbiological Practices, Laboratory Work Areas, Biosafety Management, etc. Regarding the possibility that E.coli might bring infection due to direct skin contact or other reasons, immunization of every lab member is recommended to be carried out in advance of exposure to this organism during experiment. Health and medical surveillance might be necessary to apply on our lab members to enable early detection of infections and provision of laboratory equipment.

All wastes are handled and disposed by following National and International Regulations which is being monitored by laboratory biosafety officer in our university to ensure contaminated materials or wastes are handled in a proper way.






iGEM 2019 UM_Macau