Are We Biosafe Enough?





Would any of your project ideas raise safety issues in terms of:
§ researcher safety,
§ public safety, or
§ environmental safety

Do any of the new BioBrick parts (or devices) that you made this year raise safety issues? If yes,
§ Did you document these issues in the Registry?
§ How did you manage to handle the safety issue?
§ How could other teams learn from your experience?

Is there a local biosafety group, committee, or review board at your institution?
§ If yes, what does your local biosafety group think about your project?
§ If no, which specific biosafety rules or guidelines do you have to consider in your country?

§ 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?

The only organisms we worked with are Escherichia coli K12 and Pseudomonas Putida MT2, both of which are considered lab-safe. The main dangerous elements in this project are the target aromatic chemicals. The risks these aromatic compounds pose are precisely the reason that we are working with them. We took careful steps to protect ourselves while working with them in the lab.

Members who were working directly with these compounds wore organic vapor respirators for protection against inhalation. In addition to masks, lab members also wore lab coats and gloves to protect against absorption into the skin. After use, these compounds were disposed of by sending them off to the College of Chemistry for appropriate handling.
Containment is not a problem. If our E. coli or parts leaked into the environment, we do not foresee bacteria that fluoresce upon exposure to toxic aromatic compounds being an environmental or health hazard. Our parts would be very difficult to maliciously misuse, unless the intent is to maliciously detect compounds.

Our BioBrick parts do not pose any safety issues.

The 2013 Peking iGEM team complies with all the rules set forth by The Office of Laboratory and Equipment of Peking University strictly. We did not have direct contact with the office, however our project was closely monitored by team advisors and instructors, who ensured that laboratory risks were kept at a minimum.

A mandatory biosafety education video or brief class for all iGEM teammates, including a mechanism to ensure that all teammates involved in wet lab work complete the class, for example a verification code supplied upon completion that needs to be submitted by all team members in order for an iGEM team to be able to register for the jamboree. Having better-informed scientists is the best and fastest way to a safer competition.