Monday, September 16, 2013

Safety Tips in Microscopy Pt.1

There is a ton of articles and instructions for taking precaution steps when handling solvents and stains. Much less is discussed when it comes to taking precautions about handling organisms themselves. Below is general advice to adhere to when handling samples that contain microorganisms.

1. Open wounds:
Do not handle microorganism-containing media if you have open wounds or cuts in your skin.

2. Disinfection:
Always disinfect hands and surfaces with an anti-bacterial cleaning agent.

3. Disposal:
Autoclave the used culture medium at 120°C for 30 minutes. This should also be able to kill spores. If you do not have an autoclave available, then cover the petri-dishes or culture medium with chlorine bleach. Allow sufficient time for these substances to work. When you add bleach, be aware that this is a corrosive substance when concentrated. Eye and skin contact must really be avoided.

4. Avoid Aerosolization:
Some microorganisms spread over air. Avoid spillage of the culture medium and carefully add the disinfectant to the medium before disposal, avoiding splattering of the liquid.

5. Keep Bacterial Counts Low:
Make sure that the sample (such as a hay infusion) contains many ciliates that consume the bacteria. Keep the level of nutrients low to avoid too many bacteria from forming and ensure that the medium has sufficient oxygen supply for the ciliates to grow.

Keep petri dishes closed and sealed. This minimizes the risk of accidentally touching the agar surface, which may be covered by bacterial colonies. Being aware of your work space and the risks of the chemicals used can reduce the possibility of you encountering risks from working with bacteria specimens.

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