Category: Pointers Resources

Pointers Resouces in note index

Biosafety in Microbiological and Biomedical Laboratories (BMBL) 6th Edition

The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have just released the 6th edition of the Biosafety in Microbiological and Biomedical Laboratories (BMBL). This updated book is the primary reference on biosafety and compliance with its practices and guidelines is required for those on NIH grants.

A PDF download version is available here.

Any concerns, comments, or suggested edits can be sent to [email protected]

Hard copy books can be ordered through CDC INFO On-Demand – Publications by entering the publication ID (300859) into the search bar at the far right and following the instructions. Once the publication reaches the maximum amount of orders allowed per day, a ‘temporarily unavailable’ message will appear. If this occurs, simply try to reorder the next day.

Keep the Safety in your “Health & Safety”

COVID-19 has brought many new challenges to work in our laboratories, and it is only natural that attention focuses on the new risks. Nevertheless, it’s important to remain vigilant about old risks—the “routine” laboratory safety hazards that occur daily in a science or engineering lab.

Because these old hazards—tools & equipment, hazardous chemicals, biological agents other than COVID-19—are still here and still pose the same risks, we need to maintain awareness of those risks. Established safety procedures (http://hpo.johnshopkins.edu/hse/) still apply. Some hazards have become enhanced because of the coronavirus—many more people are working alone in the lab, for example.

If you have questions about how to adapt your work and current safety procedures to work well with the COVID-19 precautions, contact Dr. Daniel Kuespert, Homewood Laboratory Safety Advocate, at [email protected] See Dr. Kuespert’s website, https://labsafety.jhu.edu, for more safety information. As always, emergency response is available from Security at 410-516-7777.

Unattended Experiments

Do you leave experiments running after-hours or over the weekend? Are you ready in case an incident might occur? Establishing clear procedures for late or unattended work may help prevent a minor incident from becoming a serious one. See this article by Richard Paluzzi, a noted lab safety expert, for more detail.

The Laboratory Safety Advocates Office has developed an unattended experiment form that you should fill and post on the laboratory door and next to the experiment. If you have questions about filling out this form contact your PI, laboratory manager or the Laboratory Safety Advocates Office.

Sodium hydride decomposes certain solvents-violently.

An article in the American Chemical Society’s Chemical & Engineering News newsmagazine draws attention to the hazard posed by sodium hydride when used in certain polar aprotic solvents such as dimethylsulfoxide (DMSO) and dimethylformamide (DMF). Although these hazards have been known for fifty years, it appears that use of NaH with these solvents is common, judging from the large number of published syntheses that use them together. It is recommended that NaH not be used with polar aprotic solvents at all. See https://cen.acs.org/safety/lab-safety/Chemists-continue-forget-safety-concerns-about-sodium-hydride/97/web/2019/08 for more detail.

Got nanomaterials?

Nanomaterials pose challenging health & safety issues, because the toxicity and other biological effects of many nanomaterials are unknown. It is entirely possible that nanomaterials can be much more dangerous than the base materials. For example, a lump of coal or a diamond is relatively nonhazardous, but carbon nanotubes have long been suspected of asbestos-like action on the lungs, leading to lung and pleural lining cancers. [https://blogs.cdc.gov/niosh-science-blog/2008/05/20/nano/]

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health recently issued four documents describing best practices for working with nanomaterials, including [items from CDC press release cited below]

• Handling and weighing of nanomaterials when scooping, pouring, and dumping;
• Harvesting nanomaterials and cleaning out reactors after materials are produced;
• Processing of nanomaterials after production;
• Working with nanomaterials of different forms, including dry powders or liquids.

The last item, working with nanomaterials, comes in a poster format suitable for hanging in the lab; the others are guidance documents.

It is strongly advised that researchers and principal investigators working with nanomaterials familiarize themselves with these documents, since they represent known best health & safety practice for their work.

The documents may be found on the CDC website at https://www.cdc.gov/niosh/updates/upd-03-12-18.html

Warning: Laser eye protection for ultrafast lasers may not be protective

Laser eye protection is normally rated using continuous-wave, narrow-bandwidth lasers. Nevertheless, some labs use pulsed lasers, which have wider bandwidths and higher peak powers; in the case of pico- and femtosecond pulses, this is taken to extremes.

Recent work at NIST and Hood College in Frederick, MD, has shown that much laser protective eyewear is not capable of withstanding fast laser pulses. (J. Laser Appl. 2017, DOI: 10.2351/1.5004090) 22 different pairs of eye protection were tested against a 40-80 fs pulsed laser, and more than half failed to perform as rated. All plastic protective lenses failed.

It is strongly recommended that when selecting laser protective eyewear, you test the eyewear against your particular use condition to ensure that they provide adequate protection. The Laser Safety Advocate, Niel Leon, is available to assist with testing of this sort.

Further information can be found in the cited paper and in this article in Chemical & Engineering News.

Hazard assessment resources from the ACS

Hazard assessment is an important part of the overall process of controlling hazards in the laboratory. The American Chemical Society recently developed a website that gives detailed information and tools for doing hazard assessments–tools that apply not only to chemistry but to all laboratory research.

I encourage all researchers to look at the ACS’s site to see what lessons can be learned. If you would like an introduction to the resources available or a “teach-in” on a particular part (e.g., standard operating procedures–what we call “experimental protocols” in academia), please contact me at [email protected].