Safety questions:

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

  1. Would any of your project ideas raise safety issues in terms of:
    • researcher safety,
      • Our laboratory is certified for Biosafety Level 1 work and Biosafety Level 2 work. Our work fell within the BSL-1 domain, as indicated by the Center of Disease Control guidelines. Some materials were irritants, toxic upon inhalation, ingestion, or contact, were possible mutagens, or were flammable. Acrylamide is a neurotoxin. Sharps and broken glass can also pose threats to safety and health. UV light is also mutagenic. E. coli strains used were common laboratory strains and not pathogenic. Goggles, gloves, and laboratory coats were worn at all times.
      • All students working in the laboratory were required to complete the following set of training tutorials, including passing a test at the end.
      • All materials were used in accordance with local, national, and Yale Biosafety requirements. Standard lab practices were followed, including secondary containment of chemicals, proper storage of volatiles and flammables, and separation of acids and bases. Nitrile gloves were worn at all times within the lab. A pipet was kept exclusively for ethidium bromide use. Fume hoods were used when handling volatile compounds, concentrated acids and bases, and other reagents. Inhalation and skin contact was avoided. Chemical agents were properly disposed of in designated biohazard waste bins. When UV light was used to visualize gels or GFP, special care was taken to avoid skin or eye exposure. Absolutely no food was allowed in the lab.
      • All biological waste was stored in autoclave bags and was autoclaved prior to disposal. Sharps and broken glassware were disposed of according to institutional guidelines. Hazardous liquid waste was clearly labeled, and stored in secondary containment for disposal by the institution. Thus, although there is potential for harm to researchers, it is minimized through following procedures approved and used by many laboratories at Yale. It is also minimized by training and common sense.
    • public safety, or
      • If toxic, flammable, or chemically reactive substances used in our experiments are released, they may post threat to the general public. These include physical hazards or health hazards. Hazardous decomposition products that decompose in water are a problem if they are carelessly flushed down the drain.
      • We do not anticipate any threat to public safety. Organisms worked with are all non-pathogenic. They are likely unable to survive outside of the lab environment, because they will be unable to compete with other organisms in nature. Biomaterials were autoclaved after use. We did not use gloves to touch doors outside of the laboratory to avoid others coming into contact with our chemical and biological agents. Hands were washed before and after leaving the laboratory.
    • environmental safety?
      • There are no additional risks posed by our projects compared to other general BL1 lab concerns. Our bacteria are not pathogenic and are unable to survive outside of the lab environment, because they are unable to effectively compete with other organisms in nature. They do not cause adverse reactions in immunocompetent humans. They do not cause infection. Toxic materials were all disposed of according to Yale waste standards to prevent adverse environmental impact.
  2. Do any of the new BioBrick parts (or devices) that you made this year raise any safety issues?
      • There are no safety issues raised by the BioBrick parts submitted to the Registry this year. None of our constructs create toxic gene products for humans or animals.
  3. 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?
      • Our project was overseen by the Yale Biological Safety Committee and the Office of Environmental Health and Safety (OEHS). Our project has been approved as consistent with Yale's safety regulations. No changes to our project were required since proper protocols were followed. Training was completed as described above.
  4. 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?
      • All teams should be required to submit a letter of safety approval from relevant safety offices.
      • Physical containment should not be the only safety measure taken by laboratories. One possibility is creating new organisms that proliferate only when exposed to a certain laboratory chemical. Because the lab chemical is not found in nature, proliferation outside of the lab is limited. Lab organisms could also contain a "kill-gene", that is inactivated only when a laboratory reagent (rare in nature) is provided.
      • All teams should discuss and debate safety issues, and engage other students, policymakers, research adminsitrators, and commercial providers of raw materials for the research. Teams should continue to describe and document safety, security, health and/or environmental issues before they submit their parts to the Registry.