Team:MSOE Milwaukee/Safety


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

Our project of synthesizing Eucalyptol using E.coli and waste products from beer production does not raise many safety issues. The BL21 (DE3) strain of E.coli that we decided to use is not pathogenic and is commonly used here at MSOE. The most concerning safety issue regards the Eucalyptol. Eucalyptol can be toxic if used in higher than normal doses and is hazardous only at these levels. The LD50 for this compound is 2480 mg/kg as previously tested on a rat. It is dangerous via ingestion, skin contact, or inhalation and is a suspect reproductive toxin. However, these hazards are only associated in doses that will not be attained in our lab through its synthesis in E.coli, so these risks are minimized.

For this particular project, there are not any safety issues that concern the safety of the public or the environment. The scope of our project does not allow for the release of any components that could be a concern to anyone outside of our lab. Our project will be completely contained, so there will not be concerns to the environment or society as long as all proper biohazardous disposal procedures are followed. Since our team has been trained in biosafety by our institution, proper disposal will not be an issue and will be completed in compliance with our training.

Do any of the new BioBrick parts (or devices) that you made this year raise safety issues? If yes,
• How 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?'

We do not anticipate any major safety concerns with any of our parts. Eucalyptol, our projected product, is only toxic at doses that will not be produced in our lab. If this part is ever used to create the levels of Eucalyptol required to be toxic, certain safety precautions will have to be taken to ensure the safety of the researchers. An example of an extra safety precaution used in this situation would include more personal protection equipment (PPE).We hope to examine the toxicity of Eucalyptol on the BL21 strain of E.coli by implementing a protocol that varies the concentration of Eucalyptol to see in what concentration they will continue to grow. This will not determine exactly what concentration is dangerous to us, but it will give us a good idea as to how toxic the compound is. We plan to document this in the registry by revealing the results of our experiment in an easy to read format, most likely a table.

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?

Yes, we have submitted our project to our local biosafety group, and they approve of our project. They recognize that the risk is minimal and that we will continue to uphold MSOE's standards in biosafety. They like that we have all been trained using the online presentation and quiz feature from our safety department here at school.

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 parts registry could find a way to quarantine the biobricks that encode for any toxic substances so that the team is aware of the extra dangers that come with working with a toxic substance. The teams could also be asked to provide protocols on working with these substances to ensure that proper safety procedures are followed.