Our Safety Practices

Our team members conducted all their benchwork at the UChicago campus under biosafety level (BSL) 1 regulations. Before being allowed to work in our designated lab space, our iGEM team had to apply for approval of our IBC protocol and all team members were required to undergo a biosafety training conducted by the UChicago Biosafety officers.

Under BSL 1 regulations, we

(1) Washed our hands after handling microbes, removing gloves, and before exiting the lab.

(2) Were not allowed to eat, drink, smoke, handle contact lenses, apply cosmetics, or store food in the lab.

(3) Handled sharps safely and discarded broken glassware in appropriate sharps containers.

(4) Tried to minimize any creation of splashes or aerosols.

(5) Decontaminated surfaces once a day and after spillage of viable material.

(6) Decontaminated by bleaching or autoclaving all viable material, such as cultures and stocks, before disposal.

Do the biological materials used in your lab work pose any

(1) Risks to the safety and health of the team members of others working in the lab?

The organisms we used (E. coli Dh5-alpha, BL21-DE3, B. subtilis WB700, and BD366) fall under risk group 1 because they are well characterized microbes that don't pose serious health concerns for healthy individuals. Thus, the main health and safety risks our team members faced were not attributed to microorganisms, but rather to exposure to ethidium bromide (EtBr) and UV light. Therefore, serious precautions were taken when our team members worked with EtBr and UV. Everything that came in contact with EtBr was labeled, and team members were required to wear gloves and lab coats when handling anything that contained EtBr. Furthermore, team members wore protective glasses when using the UV light box, which additionally contained a shield.

(2) Risks to the safety and health of the general public, if released by design or by accident?

No, our potential transformants are unlikely to have increased pathogenicity.

(3) Risks to the environment, if released by design of by accident?

No, keratinase expression in bacteria should not pose a risk to the environment.

(4) Risks to security through malicious misuse by individuals, groups, or countries?

No, keratinase expression could not pose any serious risk to security.

Safety forms were approved on 9/18/13 by Julie McNamara and David Lloyd.