Team:Purdue/Human Practices/Safety



Safety safety is #1

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

Researcher safety

For the majority of the project that we worked on there was limited safety issues that came up while working in lab. The parts that we worked with were parts that had previously been submitted in the parts registry particularly when working on the Robustness and standardization projects. The parts that we selected were chosen based on their availability and usefulness. These parts were primarily promoters, RBS, and terminators which are naturally found in E. coli. The reporter of interest was green fluorescent protein which although is not native in E. coli; however, it has been used for years in E. coli. When utilizing the BCDs, there was no immediate threat to the students and researchers. These were parts that were only used to regulate the amount of red fluorescent protein that was being expressed.

As far as safety for our team while carrying out lab procedures, everyone was properly trained by an expert before using any and all laboratory equipment. Extensive training was performed before any team members were allowed to work in lab (see training certification). This ensured that everyone was aware of safety procedures such as handling biosafety level 1 material, disposal of waste materials, and proper lab equipment.

Because we work in a shared lab space, special caution was taken to label every reagent, chemical, and solution made in lab. Placement of such materials were specified and labeled as well. This was in the case that something was dropped, misplaced, or handled by a researcher not in our lab group; they would be able to react appropriately. A buddy system was also put into place so that no one worked in lab by themselves during or after lab hours. This ensured that if an accident were to occur, help would be at hand.

Public safety

Because the projects that this year’s team took on do not have a direct link to the public, it was difficult to analyze the safety impact on the public. We focused on creating means to make engineering biology more of a reality; however, because synthetic biology is still at a young stage in this field’s history, the direct impact of what we have worked on cannot yet be estimated. The human practices aspect of our project delves into the deeper impact that we hope this project will have. However, as far as a direct impact in the near future, there is not a foreseeable public safety issue.

Environmental Safety

The biggest issues that came up over the course of this project that directly impacted the environment was the disposal of lab materials and chemicals. This was done through autoclaving waste and disposal through REM specifications. As far as the project outcomes affecting the environment, just as with the public safety issue there are no short term foreseeable safety issues that need to be addressed. Any issue that would arise would be an indirect use of our project to advance the field of synthetic biology. This was also covered in our human practices portion of our project.