Team:Wageningen UR/Safety/Lab Safety


Lab Safety

Lab safety focusses on a certain “code of conduct” of which lab workers need to comply with. Lab safety is relatable to biosafety and biosecurity as it is trying to diminish the possible negative effects of both. Complying with lab safety rules should therefore be taken seriously, as it is the first step towards overall safety.

Before we started in the lab, we had an extensive lab safety tour that included both lab as well as general safety rules. In advance of this lab tour, we were obliged to take a test, which needed to be passed before partaking in the lab safety tour. The modules which were covered by this test, and later also in the lab safety tour, included working with chemicals, cleaning and waste, ethics, lab journal, lab rules, labeling, safety equipment and ‘in case of emergency’ instructions.

Within the Xylencer project, we have worked in two different types of lab facilities, namely ML-1 and ML-2 (equal to Biosafety level (BSL) 1 and BSL2). These facilities are based upon the amount of containment needed to decrease the risk associated with microorganisms classified in a certain risk group. Microorganisms are usually scaled in four different risk groups, but not necessarily equal to the lab facility level. The classification of an organism can differ among country or region, depending on the situation. The general classification of a microorganism is based on four criteria [1, 2]:

  1. Pathogenicity of the organism.
  2. Transmission capability. This will highly influence the classification, depending on for instance the population density of a region, vectors present and general hygiene.
  3. Local care of preventative measures.
  4. Local care for effective treatment.

For each new GMO, we assessed whether we were allowed to work with this organism in an ML-1 or ML-2 setting. We discussed this with several people from the labs, like the technicians, but we also gained information via the biosafety officers of Wageningen University.

To guarantee safety and to comply with all biosafety rules, we decided to not perform experiments with the specific organisms as we did not have a specialized lab for this. Therefore, we do not perform experiments with X. fastidiosa at our lab and only perform limited experiments with Xanthomonas campestris pv. campestris at a specialized lab. This was necessary as these bacteria are classified as ML-2 containment organisms in the Netherlands. Furthermore, we only used E. coli and S. cerevisiae as chassis organisms. Working with these organisms is classified as ML-1 containment. The only work carried out in the ML-2 lab was when working with bacteriophage Lambda and T7. Although this was not because of biosafety considerations, but rather overall safety for other experiments carried out in the ML-1 labs. This bacteriophage could infect E. coli and therefore pose danger to other experiments.

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  • References arrow_downward
    1. WHO, “Laboratory biosafety manual Third edition World Health Organization,” World Heal. Organ., pp. 1–178, 2004.
    2. US Department of Health and Human Services, “Biosafety in Microbiological and Biomedical Laboratories (BMBL),” Public Heal. Serv., vol. 5th Editio, no. April, pp. 1–250, 1999.