Ethidium Bromide: I touched it.

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Ethidium Bromide: I touched it.

Postby Aurora on April 19th, 2009, 7:50 pm 

Okay so this week's lab was on Purification of Plasmid DNA

we were told to practice on a sample agarose gel, and the professor said we can use pipets to remove the ink in the wells with water..

So instead I took the gel and rinsed it under running water and the professor came in and he asked me what i was doing, I told him I was cleaning it. He went on to tell me that it was made of ethidium bromide and it was a carcinogen... He didn't say anything and I was just like.. *washes hands furiously

30minutes later I went to his office next door to get concentrated ink to mix with DNA and he was getting out our agarose gel with a spatula under the hood for our electrophoresis and he said be careful, this is carcinogenic and I said, Well I touched it. And he said it was okay since it wasn't the liquid ethidium bromide... *sigh of relief*?

I hope I'll be okay..what do you guys say?
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Postby BioWizard on April 19th, 2009, 9:02 pm 

No need to be concerned over a one time exposure, and rinsing your hands well with cold water (without furious scrubbing) will have washed most of it off. Just don't touch it in the future, and as a good practice, always wear gloves.
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Re: Ethidium Bromide: I touched it.

Postby Jonathan Madriaga on February 5th, 2010, 8:52 pm 

Hmm, what concentration of the agarose gel did you make (how much ethidium bromide) did you use when you constructed the cell. It you touched the agarose gel, it shouldn't be a big deal, but next time wear latex gloves. Touching a small amount of ethidium bromide (concentrated form~liquid) is much more dangerous, not only through touch, but through smell, so you should work with that chemical under the hood with gloves of course.
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Re: Ethidium Bromide: I touched it.

Postby Paralith on February 5th, 2010, 9:56 pm 

Sounds like the gels were pre-made for the students to use, Jonathan. Aurora may not know what concentration it was, though most gels are between 1 and 2% EtBr. And also, I worked with EtBr for three years and I never used a hood. You just need to be careful with it.

Aurora, in all likelihood you'll be fine. Handling gels with your hands isn't something you want to do regularly, that's all.
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Re: Ethidium Bromide: I touched it.

Postby BioWizard on February 6th, 2010, 12:13 am 

What we do is aliquot a little bit of EtBr into an epindorf tube and store it at 4C. This way, we just take a small amount from it whenever we're pouring a gel, and since it's a very small amount in cold storage, no need to worry about fumes and what not.
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Re: Ethidium Bromide: I touched it.

Postby Paralith on February 6th, 2010, 12:25 am 

Hmm. Apparently none of the labs I worked at were very safe. We just kept the bottle on the counter at room temp. Oh well, I'll let you know if I get cancer.
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Re: Ethidium Bromide: I touched it.

Postby BioWizard on February 6th, 2010, 12:27 am 

I don't think it's that big of of an issue Paralith. I mean, you're more likely to get cancer from a horde of other things, inside your lab and out. One of the PIs in a previous lab I've rotated in is a completely neurotic OCD individual, so some of it just carried over with me.
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Re: Ethidium Bromide: I touched it.

Postby PaulN on June 19th, 2019, 8:51 pm 

Better to use sodium nitrite and hypophosphorous acid. A common practice was to add sodium hypochlorite (bleach) to ethidium bromide solutions before disposing of them down the drain. The Lunn and Sansone (1977) study found that bleach treatment yields products that are quite mutagenic and recommends bleach not be used.

Due to it being a probable carcinogen, inhalation is not a good idea. Alveolar lining absorbs WAYYYY better than epidermis layer. :-)
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Re: Ethidium Bromide: I touched it.

Postby TheVat on June 20th, 2019, 11:47 am 

Exposures to such agents are more a problem in construction trades or industrial plants where it's a regular daily exposure. I was once working in a lab where we had a bromine release and everyone breathed some bromine for a few minutes. Once in your life: no big deal.
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