Team:CO Mines/Safety

The Safety Issues of Heavy Metals

By choosing to test heavy metal sensors, several risks were prevalent from the start. As a team that tries to follow ethically and socially responsible research, this created a few problems. Cadmium alone is listed on the World’s Health Organization as a Top 10 Chemicals of Major Public Concern. To ensure safe handling and disposal of the heavy metals the team worked closely the the Environmental Health and Safety Department (EHS), and the following steps were conducted.

  • The metal salts were ordered through responsible suppliers.
  • Conversations were held with the EHS department to ensure proper disposal and storage methods.
  • Separate waste containers were made for both heavy metal liquid and solid wastes.
  • The liquid waste containers used a double containment method in case of any spillage.
  • Disposal of the heavy metals was done by the Environmental Health and Safety Department to ensure a responsible and safe disposal.
  • Any work done with the heavy metal salts was done in the fume hood to prevent inhalation of particles.
  • Liquid stocks were also prepared to reduce the amount of work done with the metal salts, reducing the inhalation dangers.
  • Goggles, gloves, and aprons were used during all experiments involving the heavy metals.

By following these procedures the dangers to both the lab personnel and to the environment are reduced to an acceptable level. Other methods are also being explored to further reduce the dangers.

The sensor was moved into E.coli as Staphylococcus aureus is a Level 2 Pathogenic Organism. This reduces the need to deal with potentially dangerous organisms. The sensing portion was also synthetically made by IDT to prevent the lab from working with S. aureus .