iGEM UWaterloo 2019 - Safety


Our Lab

Our lab is located on the third floor of Biology 1 building at the University of Waterloo. We have our own tabletop centrifuges, thermal cycler, analytical and top-loading balances, -20°C freezer, and 4°C refrigerator. We share the -80°C freezer and 37°C incubator with the host lab, under the guidance and supervision of those in the Dr. Trevor Charles lab. Waterloo iGEM is thankful for the supervision and support members of the Dr. Trevor Charles lab have given our team.

Laboratory Safety Guidelines in Canada

In Canada, all research practices involving biological materials are strictly regulated by The Public Health Agency of Canada. In addition, there are certain regulations that must be followed in every work place, as recorded by the Workplace Health & Safety Regulations.

Laboratory Safety Guidelines at the University of Waterloo

All laboratory practices operated within The University of Waterloo iGEM Team are regulated by the University of Waterloo’s Safety Office. As such, everyone in the lab had been appropriately trained with the safety modules required by the University of Waterloo before being allowed to work in the lab. The training included WHMIS 2015, Laboratory Biosafety Training, and General Lab Safety. The training was based on the following safety guidelines:

Furthermore, we also used goggles when necessary, such as when flash freezing cells in tubes using liquid nitrogen. Only those who were trained in cryogenic and compressed gas safety were allowed to collect and work with the liquid nitrogen. To maintain sterility and safety, we implemented gloves and lab coats into our everyday routines. Bunsen burners were carefully lit and never left unwatched. The fume hood was always run to keep toxic fumes from escaping before the certain chemicals were sent for disposal.

Laboratory Safety Design at Waterloo iGEM: Additional Information

All of our chemical solutions are labelled and safely stored in appropriate containers. Flammable substances and acids are stored separately in appropriate cupboards. We take safety seriously; from our Broken Glass Waste bin and regularly checked Fire Extinguisher to our fully stocked First Aid Kit and Safety Information signs on the door for all to see, safety awareness and procedures are not something we take lightly. We also dispose of our biohazardous waste properly. Materials such as contaminated pipette tips, microtubes, KimWipes, etc. are put in Biohazardous Waste containers and compiled into our large bin. Once the bin is full, we safely transport it to the Hazardous Waste Disposal site on the university campus, where it is properly disposed of by qualified employees. We have also implemented our Weekly Eyewash Maintenance program, to ensure that stagnant, dead-leg water is removed from the tubing and that the apparatus is always clear and working for any emergencies that may occur. Overall, our lab and project had many safety features implemented in order to ensure everyone involved inside and outside of the lab were kept safe.

Safe project design

  • We only worked with biosafety level 1 organisms (E. coli DH5a, E. coli JT2, and B. diazoefficiens usda 110)
  • This year, our project involved working with herbicides glyphosate and linuron as well as the 3,4-DCA by-product of linuron degradation. This presented new safety considerations as our team usually works with biological hazards, but not this kind of chemical hazard. Therefore we took extra safety precautions when working with these chemicals:
  • Preparations of chemical stock solutions were only carried out by a select few very well trained members. This will be done in fume hood wearing all proper protective equipment (gloves, glasses, lab coat).
      Solutions were be well labelled and kept in screw-cap tubes that close securely.
    • Chemical waste was properly disposed of according to University of Waterloo regulations.
    • Although our team initially wanted to apply herbicides to our Soybeans for some of our experiments, we decided not to do this because the plant incubators we were using were part of a shared facility. We did not want to use high concentrations outside of a fumehood and pose a risk to ourselves and other users of this facility.