Team:HKU HongKong/Safety


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Members of our IGEM team members were required to attend a pre-lab training offered by the Department of Biochemistry, the University of Hong Kong before gaining access to the labs. The training was divided into 2 sessions, including safety talk and laboratory inspection, which rise awareness of any potential dangers in the lab to our team members. The Department of Biochemistry has provided and maintained a safe environment, in compliance with the Occupational Safety and Health Regulations for every team member.

A. Would any of your project ideas raise safety issues in terms of:

  1. Researcher safety
  2. No as we have series of measure to team members. Laboratory inspection along with a safety talk held by safety chief is required, which strengthen the awareness of laboratory safety. Moreover, information pamphlets on safety issue have been distributed to all of our team members as a guide. Nevertheless, supervision from advisor is required in the department. This provides better protection towards our team members.

    Before using new chemicals or bacterial stain in lab, Material Safety Data Sheet or Biosafety Level of particular stain was checked to ensure if there are any potential dangers to researcher.

  3. Public safety
  4. In general, we will be using E.coli strain DH5a to conduct plasmid engineering. These strains of E. coli are not known to cause harm to humans as well as animals. According to the Biosafety manual of the World Health Organisation, these groups of bacteria belong to Biosafety Level 1.

    For isolation of pvdQ, genomic DNA of P. aerugonosa strain Boston 41501 is used, in which it belongs to Biosafety Level 1, instead of extracted from P. aerugonosa, which is Biosafety Level 2.

    To avoid the spread of E.coli, used agar plates, eppendorf tubes, and other laboratory apparatus were disposed in separate containers and sterilize them by autoclave before disposal. Thus, bacteria can hardly be dispersed and harm public.

  5. Environmental safety
  6. Apart from bacterial waste treatment mentioned in public safety, our lab bench was cleaned by 70% ethanol before we leave to prevent contamination. Every team members will clean their hands before they leave lab to prevent contaminate external environment by our experiment bacteria.

    For AHL waste produced from lab work, it was labeled and treated separately to prevent pollution to external environment.

    B. Do any of the new BioBrick parts (or devices) that you made this year raise any safety issues? No. There are no safety issues raised by the new BioBrick parts because they do not pose any risk to humans as well as the environment.

    C. Is there a local biosafety group, committee, or review board at your institution? Yes! The Safety Committee of Department of Biochemistry in the University of Hong Kong. We discuss the biosafety aspect with the safety committee members at every stage of our progress. The committee concerns safety issues in three areas in particular: general, biological and radiation. Each area is under the supervision of different safety officers. After review from the Safety Committee, they think the project is safe to work by undergraduate as there is supervision from advisor in iGEM team.

    D. Do you have any other ideas how to deal with safety issues that could be useful for future iGEM competitions? How could parts, devices and systems be made even safer through biosafety engineering? We would like to suggest to assign a particular area on lab bench only for microbe work. This area can reduce chance of contamination by microbe in two ways. First, only microbes are allowed to work in particular area means less area in the lab will be contaminated.