HKUST iGEM understands the risk of working in the lab and intends to take all necessary measurements and precautions to prioritize the safety of our iGEM members. Following this matter, we have assigned the following procedures below.
LABORATORY SAFETY CONCERN
Our project uses SYBR Safe and Midori Green as our gel electrophoresis stain. However, we utilizes the same gel imaging machine with gels from the other lab that uses Ethidium bromide, which is a very harmful carcinogenic chemical. We use blue light for gel visualization. Our project also involves media culture with antibiotics that can be lethal in large amount. For sterilization, we use ethanol 70% that can be dangerous in large doses in the long term.
During the wet lab, all lab members were instructed to always wear disposable nitrile gloves, closed-toe shoes, long pants, use eyes protection under the blue light gel visualization. Gloves are disposed each time we finished the lab. The glasses used in the experiments must be washed everyday after use. All the biohazard waste is autoclaved and transported to another facility which is responsible for regulating the biological wastes. Hand soap with antibacterial protection is provided to wash our hand thoroughly. Each module has one person in charge to better ensure the safety.
Our laboratories in HKUST are compatible for biosafety level 2. Our lab is equipped with biosafety cabinet with HEPA filter, first aid kit, fire extinguisher, flame-retardant benches, spill kits, safety showers and eye-washer. Our wet lab experiments are all performed under the supervision of our supervisor, Dr. Jessica Tang. At the same time, all of our reagents and materials are kept in a safe container with specific sign and precautions to handle. Each tube is labeled and sealed off before putting it together with other reagents. We put our media culture in a different refrigerator from the regular substance to prevent any unwanted reagents from contamination. We always maintained a clean workplace and tidied up after use.
Our experiment is entirely safe, involving no pathogenic materials, environmental release and animal/human testing. We use Escherichia coli DH5 alpha as our chassis organism. From a recent study, E. coli DH5 alpha has been determined that it lacks several genes for known E. coli pathogenicity factors. We also use Shewanella oneidensis MR-1 in our experiment and it has been also shown no harmful effect to human nor the environment in the literature. Both bacteria are grouped under the risk group 1.
HUMAN PRACTICES RESEARCH
Our team had collected surveys from the public in regards to their concerns and opinions when using renewable energy. The only personal information we have collected in the survey are the age group expressed in range, and educational levels. There are no record of individual identity that one can trace. These information collected wile solely help us to analyse how the view point varies according to the different age groups. All interviewees are notified that the results from this survey will be used for us to see how we can modify our MFC according to the public's needs. All information we have collected will be destroyed after the duration of iGEM 2018.
TRAINING AND ENFORCEMENT
Training: All team members who work in the wet lab must have completed the safety training organized by Health, Safety, and Environment Office (HSEO) at the HKUST by completing a theoretical test regarding the safety concern.
The safety training we learnt:
- Biological Safety
- Chemical Safety I – Chemical Safety for Laboratory Users
- Chemical Safety II – Hazardous Waste Management
More information about the safety training can be found here
University Safety: Laboratory safety in HKUST is regulated by the Health, Safety, and Environment Office (HSEO).
More information about HSEO of HKUST can be found here