With due respect to Dr. Parida, I am genuinely surprised by his advice
about washing hands to clean ethidium bromide contamination.
Ethidium bromide is dangerous and is a strong mutagent either in
buffer or in the gel. Always handle ethidium bromide gels with gloves
and dispose the gloves and gels in a ethidium bromide solid waste
biohazardous container. Washing hands with water (though that is the
first thing to do as soon as possible) will not remove ethidium bromide
that is pretty strongly bonded with your skin. Any ethidium bromide
spill on benchtops should be solidified using RED Z, or some such proven
hazardous liquid disposal agent and should be disposed off as per
institute guidelines. Surface repeatedly washed with butanol, and other
recommended detergents till no fluorescence is observed under UV (again
contact your safety regulation people). Ethidium bromide waste is
considered to be that biohazardous, that it is disposed off separately
from other biohazardous wastes, normally by incineration. All buffers
(including running buffers) containing Ethidium bromide (any
concentration even traces), should be filtered through activated
charcoal filters (we do that in our lab which are also available
commercially), ensured that the traces are well below safety limits and
then disposed off down the sink.
If you have ethidium bromide spill on your coat, carefully pack
them in a biohazardous bag and contact your environment safety people
on the best way to dispose it off. Washing them will only contaminate
your washing machine, other clothes and yourselves. Different
institutes follow slightly different guidelines on disposing ethidium
Careless handling of ethidium bromide can contaminate others in the
lab too which is not an ethical practice.
Best of luck
Jayakumar T. Nair, Ph.D.,
Roswell Park Cancer Institute
Buffalo, NY 14263
From: [Only registered users see links. ]
[mailto:[Only registered users see links. ].indiana.edu] On Behalf Of Siddhartha
Sent: Sunday, February 19, 2006 11:40 PM
To: [Only registered users see links. ]
Subject: Re: Methods Digest, Vol 9, Issue 18
Etbr is its stock solution(10mg/ml) form is to some extent harmful but
not when used in gels or staining buffer , u can just wash ur hands if
u get in touch
On 2/19/06, [Only registered users see links. ]
<[Only registered users see links. ].indiana.edu> wrote:
"el" <[Only registered users see links. ]> wrote:
Center for biotechnology and Research
Neelachal Inst of Medical Sciences
O.C.H.C building , Near Ram Mandir
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In article <[Only registered users see links. ].net >, "Jayakumar, R" <[Only registered users see links. ]> wrote:
Well, if it's strongly bound to skin then it's harmless :-) That's what skin
does - protects against external damage. "Problem" is, EthBr does *not*
bind pretty strongly to skin and is washed away by water/soap very
It is not "biohazardous"!
that it is disposed off separately
In most of the USA, I believe, regulations are that, starting from some
low concentration, EthBr waste can go to the sink. Same as for most
radioactive materials. Makes common sense.
... And the building, and the city!, oh, the Earth!
Careless handling of anything is bad practice in the lab.
But hugely exaggregating the danger is not the best way of ethical
standards in the lab.
In article <dtdtkm$jvp$[Only registered users see links. ].indiana.edu>, [Only registered users see links. ] (Don Gilbert) wrote:
A sensible site. Few quotes (emphasis mine):
Ethidium bromide is commonly used in molecular biology laboratories.
While it is *not* regulated as hazardous waste, the mutagenic properties
of this substance may present a hazard.
Aqueous solutions containing <10ug/ml ethidium bromide *can* be released
to the drain.
I don't think you need to worry. You probably couldn't have had more
than 10 micrograms of EtBr on your jeans. Then you made 2 serial
dilutions of that in 40 or so liters of water (wash and rinse cycle),
and I'd say you probably don't need to worry about having
On Feb 20, 2006, at 6:29 PM, el wrote:
Michael L. Sullivan
Plant Research Molecular Geneticist
US Dairy Forage Research Center
1925 Linden Drive West
Madison, WI 53706
(608) 890-0046 (Phone)
(608) 890-0076 (FAX)
When I was a student, we had to do Cesium Chloride preps of some
plasmid (do students still do that? I was terrified of the
ultracentrifuge, probably connected with my fear of washing machines
Of course the preps were HEAVILY laced with EB (not to mention CsCl!)
and of course I did JUST what the prof suggested NOT to do, which was
put my hand behind the tube while I punctured it with a large-bore
needle to pull the band with my plasmid. Whoops! So I had basically
injected (not deeply, fortunately) myself with EB/salt solution
glowing-red. I did survive, evidently, although the case for brain
damage could be made ;-)
I wouldnt worry too much about it. There's no doubt that it is not good
for you and that it is a strong mutagen. However, it doesnt penetrate
cells easily, and it is easily washed away. Wash your stuff a few times
and it'll be so diluted that it will be fine.
Use the incident as a lesson though!
Depending on your level of funding, you might consider SYBRSafe stain by
Molecular Probes. It's much more expensive, and has a couple of other
drawbacks, but it's less harmful than EtBr.