Team:Queens Canada/Safety


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Keeping People Safe
Each team member on the Queen's iGEM 2013 team has received extensive lab safety and Workplace Hazardous Materials Information System (WHMIS) training as several hazardous compounds were encountered. These include ethidium bromide, a potential carcinogen and mutagen, and sodium azide, a potentially deadly chemical. Ethidium bromide was used to run gel electrophoresis while sodium azide was used in several mini chemotaxis assays to paralyze Caenorhabditis elegans. Proper protocols were followed in handling both chemicals, including the use of appropriate safety equipment and proper disposal techniques. As the research conducted this year is considered Level 1 work, all iGEM students worked in an officially approved Level 1 Biohazard Lab. All Canadian national biosafety standards and guidelines were followed. Furthermore, the project idea, methods and safety considerations were reviewed by two faculty advisors, Dr. Kenton Ko and Dr. Ian Chin-Sang, who are both members of the Biohazard Committee at Queen's University.
The bacterial strains used in the research are non-pathogenic E. coli strains, including K-12, XL1-Blue, and BL-21. These are rated as Biosafety Level 1 and do not pose a threat to laboratory workers, the general public or the environment. All measures outlined in the Material Safety Data Sheets (MSDS) and the biosafety regulations present at Queen's University were followed. These measures prevent our genetically modified E. coli strains from being introduced into the environment, and from posing any risk to security through malicious misuse by individuals, groups, or countries.
Application Risks
When changing foot odor into a compound that smells like bananas, it could have unpredictable effects such as luring insects or triggering allergic reactions. In order for this to become a commercial product, extensive testing with actual mosquitoes in regular outdoors environments as well as testing its effects on humans would be required. Since the product would require placing bacteria relatively close to human skin, such as the feet, precautions would need to be taken to ensure that the bacteria does not escape the product and colonize the shoes or feet instead. Further testing would be required to see if this would cause adverse effects.
When working with the mosquito traps, they would have to be at optimal distance from human residences. If they are too far, then the impact would not be as great, but if they are too close, it may lure more mosquitoes to humans. With the idea and knowledge of making mosquito traps, people might get the idea of luring mosquitoes into traps and killing them. This could possibly cause the extinction of mosquitoes, which can potentially have adverse effects on the ecosystem.