47Zero to Genetic Engineering Hero - Chapter 2 - Setting Up Your Genetic Engineering Hero Space
Immunocompromised persons: While compo-
nents of BSL-1/RG-1 experiments like the ones
for this book are non-pathogenic, some individu-
als, such as those who are immunocompromised,
can be affected by large numbers of bacteria and
should wear extra protection, such as long sleeves
and a face mask, to ensure no contact with any
experiment component. If you or someone around
you has a compromised immune system, you or
the immunocompromised person should consult
a physician about the activities before starting any
Wash your hands before and after manipulating
your experiment, the ingredients, or the hardware.
Wear gloves even when cleaning your space or
handling the consumables (petri plates, loops,
etc). This will protect you from your experiment,
and your experiment from you. Any latex, nitrile,
or general-purpose gloves you find at the phar-
macy will do. Also, after you put on your gloves, be
aware of what you touch. Do not touch your face or
scratch itches with your gloved ngers as this will
transfer microbes from your body to your hands!
Clean up your station, spills and work surface
before and after use. Use an alcohol solution (e.g.
70% rubbing alcohol), a chlorinated spray cleaner,
or a 10% solution of chlorinated bleach generously
applied to a paper towel and rub onto any contam-
inated surfaces. You can also use chlorinated
wipes to do this. But be careful! These cleaners can
discolor your clothing. Even if you have not had a
spill, wipe down your workspace table with a 70%
rubbing alcohol solution before or after your work
but never use rubbing alcohol on your minilabs. To
clean minilabs, refer to their instruction manuals.
Discard used consumables properly. During your
experiments, you will have ingredients, consum-
ables, and microorganisms that you need to
dispose of safely. A simple inactivation procedure
is described for each of the hands-on exercises.
This includes putting any used items inside the
inactivation bag (which has been placed within
your discard container). Then add bleach and
water to the inactivation bag. After 24 hours, all
organisms will be killed, and DNA will be dena-
tured (broken down and made non-functional). It
is safe at that time to put the liquid in the toilet and
dispose of the solid materials in the garbage.
Tie up your hair. If you have long hair, be sure to tie
it up in your lab space. Hair can get into an experi-
ment and contaminate it, while also contaminating
your hair with the experiment components.
Print a few Safety and Clean-up checklist and keep them
by your workspace to use before and after your exper-
iments as you become familiar with the procedures.
The Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC) also has
some excellent materials that expand on this topic:
Biosafety 101 course: A free online biosafety course
is offered by PHAC. It covers the biosafety basics
that you should consider, especially when working
in a professional lab. You will be redirected to this
resource by visiting https://amino.bio/biosafety.
What-is-Biosafety? Poster: A biosafety poster that
describes what biosafety is all about. It will teach and
remind you that your eyes, mouth, cuts and nose are
your main vulnerabilities to the world around you.
Download and print this poster to put it up on your
Genetic Engineering Hero lab wall. You can nd this
resource at https://amino.bio/whatisbiosafety.
Biosafety-in-Action Poster: A biosafety poster that
you can print and put on the wall of your space. This
poster describes actions you should emulate while
at your genetic engineering workspace. You can nd
this resource at https://amino.bio/biosafetyinaction.
Biosecurity Poster: By completing the exercises in
this book, you will gain the superpower of genetic
engineering. You will be an essential player in making
sure that you and no one else uses genetic engineer-
ing to do bad. Have a look back to the beginning of the
book, recite the Genetic Engineers’ Pledge and sign it.
PHAC created a biosecurity poster so you can learn
what biosecurity is and the importance of safe genetic
engineering. While this poster mentions “bacteria” as
a biosecurity risk, remember the difference between
“Risk Groups”. You are only using RG-1 organisms
throughout this book. The biosecurity poster, in
general, refers to “pathogenic organisms” that are
RG-2 or higher. Find the poster at https://amino.bio/
Just because I Can, does it mean
Technology is like a double-edged sword. This
means that while technology has the potential to do
immense good and even propel humanity to the next
phase of its evolution, technology can also do harm
at the level of the individual, environment, or even
populations. Biotechnology is no different than the
great technologies that preceded it.
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