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Safety was a huge factor when designing our project, and our team has spent a lot of time discussing potential safety hazards associated with our project. Following are the conclusions that we came to.

Researcher safety issues:

  • The team worked with high levels of arsenic and gold in solution. The risk of harmful exposure to these heavy metals was mitigated by adhering to stringent lab safety techniques.
  • When performing agarose gel electrophoresis, ethidium bromide was used to stain our gels so that bands of nucleic acid could be viewed under ultraviolet light. Ethidium bromide is a known carcinogen, so proper precaution was observed when handling it. For example, no team member ever handled the compound without gloves, and it was never mixed with the agarose solution until after it had cooled to the point that no vapor was emitted from the flask. Also, our stock of ethidium bromide was stored away from other frequently used materials and wrapped in aluminum foil.

Environmental and public safety issues:

  • The E.coli chassis used for our experimentation was not infectious.
  • Our biological system does not produce any toxic substances.
  • Experimentation took place in a BL2 laboratory, while our work only required the use of BL1.

The University of Illinois' Biological Safety Section of the Division of Research Safety is aware of our project and decided that working under the jurisdiction of Dr. Yong-Su Jin was sufficient for safety guidelines to be met. In addition, all team members were required to pass both general and biological laboratory safety and protocol tests before working in lab.