How to Prevent Accidental Exposure and Cross-Contamination When Using Biosafety Cabinets

AUSTIN, Texas - Oct. 24, 2019 - Why It's Important To Prevent Accidental Exposures And Cross Contamination In The Laboratory

Failure to establish a culture of safety in laboratories handling biospecimens can have real-world consequences — the increased risk of serious laboratory-acquired infections (LAIs).

According to the CDC's MMWR reports, laboratory workers handling blood products are infected with Hepatitis B at a rate that is 2 to 4 times that of the general population. Lab workers also report higher rates of exposure to Hepatitis C and human immunodeficiency virus (HIV).

Ensuring the health and safety of lab personnel is of paramount importance.

We take a look at some of the key safety 'takeaways' that will keep your staff safer as well as reduce the chance of inadvertent cross-contamination that could imperil the accuracy and reproducibility of your lab experiments and test procedures.

According to the CDC, the five most prominent sources of laboratory-acquired infections are:

1. Accidental Inoculation By Syringe Needles Or Contaminated Sharps.

Punctures and cuts from so-called sharps, such as needle sticks, broken pipettes, and glass slides, can lead to dangerous Laboratory-Acquired Infections (LAIs). Always have a designated procedure for handling sharps, a place to safely dispose of them, and an appropriate emergency medical protocol to follow immediately after a known or suspected incident.

2. Spills And Splashes On The Skin Or Mucous Membranes.

When it comes to spills, a disorganized workspace or unfamiliarity with handling items while wearing personal protective equipment (PPE) can be just as dangerous as moving too quickly or not paying close attention. Implosion accidents are another risk; these can occur when vacuum flasks or bell jars fail, resulting in sharp debris from broken glass shooting out into a laboratory technician's unprotected eyes, face, or hands. Finally, explosions in the laboratory can be caused by multiple factors, including the mishandling of liquid gases (such as liquid nitrogen, helium or oxygen) in cryogenic containers, or the accidental mixing of incompatible compounds due to handling errors caused by mislabeled or LASA (look-alike, sound-alike) compounds.

3. Ingestion Or Exposure By Mouth Pipetting Or Touching The Mouth Or Eyes With Fingers Or Contaminated Objects.

Ingestion of chemicals or biological pathogens can occur due to incorrect specimen procedures, such as mouth pipetting, allowing food and beverages in the lab, absentmindedly placing a pen or pencil in the mouth, wearing contact lenses, or using your smartphone in the laboratory without a protective cover.

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Mehmet Atesoglu

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