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Lab safety

We have no formal safety training available. But you can make a start by doing the
Howard Hughes Medical Institute lab safety course on the Internet.
Log in as a "colleague and visitor".

 

General safety points that need to be emphasized:

1. Before working with hazardous chemicals (e.g. weighing them; "hazardous" means almost everything, except NaCl, KCl etc) make sure that the lab water supply is turned on. The water is often interrupted with no warning. The reason for this is that you may have to use a lot of water to wash spilled chemicals off your skin or from your eyes.

2. Throw away syringe needles in the "sharp things" containers (the same ones we use for patch pipettes) and not in the general litter bins (don't put disposable needles in the washing up either!).

3. The same applies for glass - we have a container for broken glass - use it and make sure it is emptied safely. At the moment, as far as we know, no safe separate glass disposal system has been created in any of the institutes in Bucharest. So in the summer, we have to put the broken glass in a strong box and put it straight into the big rubbish container (this container is the final common pathway for all rubbish leaving the Faculty).

4. When you're polishing the glass for patch pipettes, don't walk away leaving the Bunsen burner turned on. This is especially dangerous when the sun is shining and the flame is invisible!

5. Know the characteristics of whatever substance you are working with. This means read the material safety data sheet (from the Sigma web page). For most substances in use in our lab, the recommendations are the same:
- don't handle it in such a way that you might inhale it. That means close the windows when weighing things. The balance is in the fume cupboard and if the substance is a light powder, you can switch on the fume cupboard to avoid it getting into the air.
- if it gets in your eyes on on your skin, wash with plenty of water
Download the material safety data sheet before you start working with the substance!

6. Capsaicin, if you use it, will make you very unhappy if you breathe it in or get it in your eyes. Always open & weigh that in the fume cupboard. Wear gloves, or wash your hands very throroughly afterwards.

7. When pipetting avoid creating aerosols (an aerosol is a fine suspension of bits of liquid in air). If you create an aerosol you will breathe in the stuff, and so will everyone else.

8. Don't rely on gloves, goggles or masks to be safe (wear them, but work as if you were not wearing them). This means, avoid getting the stuff in places it shouldn't be (on your hands, on the outside of a container, on the bench, in the air).
There's no point in wearing gloves if you get stuff on them and then handle other things. The reason you wear gloves is to protect your hands at the moment you spill something; if you do get something on your gloves, replace them.

9. Dispose of hazardous substances carefully. Small quantities (a few ml) of dilute aqueous solutions can be put down the sink but:
(1) Do it with the water running, to dilute it immediately
(2) Empty the stuff straight into the plughole, not just anywhere in the sink
(3) Rinse the sink and keep the water running for a minute or so afterwards
For concentrated things such as aliquots of nasty substances, put them in the "hazardous stuff" container which will be incinerated.

10. Peptide toxins and TTX in dilute solutions are safe. But be very careful when using the TTX stock solution and extremely careful when making a TTX stock solution.