We gave the lab work and project requirement utmost importance when it came to safety by carefully studying protocols and accordingly preparing our work surroundings for safe and successful execution of the project experiments. Since the project is going to be carried in the laboratory under controlled environment, the safety requirements are going to be minimal. TogglepH is a revolutionary technology that requires deft and responsible handling. It is inherently safe to use as none of its components are toxic to living beings and the engineered sequences do not produce any unwanted responses. Despite its safe nature, it is important to use this remediation tool with care so that the balance of the ocean is not adversely affected.
Our entire solution is based on safe microorganisms which solve the problem of ocean acidification which we humans have caused. Our safe and friendly workers contain no sequences which may cause secretion of toxic substances or cause the microbe to become toxic to the marine life in the ocean. Special care has been taken to assess the growth of our microbes in order to prevent them from replicating excessively and disturbing the biological load of the ocean. Environmental safety is something we that we kept in mind right from the start since our solution aims to restore the balance of nature which we have disturbed. It aims at creating a better, healthier and cleaner environment for all us by solving the cosmopolitan problem of ocean acidification.
We used a Biosafety level 1 laboratory since we were working with E. Coli DH5α. All of us adhered to
strict safety protocols including but not limited to autoclaving glassware before and after use,
wearing disposable personal protective equipment and we prohibited all food items inside the lab.
This enabled us to work with constitutively with high competency all the while ensuring that we
produce credible results. Being college students, we were already familiar with the lab conditions of
the area and hence augmented with the aforementioned rules, we were able to set up a truly
efficient, safe and efficacious workplace.
To meet the personal protection aspect, we were given the safety introduction for the facilities in our laboratory by the laboratory in-charge. Explanations of centrifuges, incubators, fume hoods as well as waste disposal of aqueous and organic liquids are one of the few basic examples explained to us thoroughly.
As E. Coli DH5α do not represent a particular danger as compared to other biosafety level 1 organisms, personal protection with lab coats, glasses and gloves are sufficient for safety purposes. General protocols used
1. Ethanol was used to sterilize surfaces.
2. Autoclaving of equipment before and after use was performed.
3. All work done with microbes was done in a laminar air flow chamber.
4. Eyewear/masks were used while working with microbes.
5. Lab coats and gloves were mandatorily used during the execution of our experimental protocols.
6. Personal protective equipment to be autoclaved after every day of lab work to prevent contamination.
7. Prohibition of consumption food stuffs and drinks in the lab.
Ethidium Bromide: This compound is a potent mutagen and is moderately toxic after an acute exposure. Working was performed in an active fume hood wearing personal protective equipment (PPE) to minimize the chance of exposure. We disposed it off in accordance to the safety disposal regulations.
UV light: We utilized the UV light in the fume hood as well as for both to sanitize our containers in addition to equipment (counting Gibson pipettes, petri-plates, pipette tips, glasswares etc) and to watch and cut out gels. Our colleagues wore protective glasses to avoid any kind of harmful exposure.
Additional personal protection: Enclosed footwear were made available and mandatory to minimize the possibility of skin exposure with harmful substances. Also, before leaving the lab, the team made sure to prevent the external environment contamination by disinfecting their clothing. Chemical safety: Proper storage for both flammable and potentially hazardous chemicals, as well as proper working methods for the required working environment protocols to handle respective substances: example working in an active fume hood ,use and storage of acids etc. In case of an emergency, safety showers, eyewashes and hand washes, fire extinguishers in addition to a nearby facility in case of serious injury were made easily accessible.
Ethical, Legal and Social Issues (ELSI)
All ELSI raised during our numerous presentations were countered successfully with facts and a general acceptance of those facts was achieved throughout the spectrum. In future, a local body within our college can be set up to address these ELSI which may arise from time to time.
Since our product is a genetically modified organism, we are committed to working with the regulatory authorities in order to ensure that our product is completely safe. We intend to perform multi-site testing in synthetic environments to assess all the repercussions of introducing our product into the ocean. Only once all avenues have been considered will we make a move towards pushing for its wider acceptance amongst the general public.