Microorganisms

All persons working with microorganisms are required to take Bio Safety training, given by Environmental Health & Safety (EHS).

Although you may not be working with pathogenic organisms in your studies, you should always be aware of safety procedures in dealing with microbes in general. The mammalian immune system is normally able to handle most microorganisms, including those that are potentially pathogenic. However, there are two hazards that must be avoided.

  1. Persons with diseases that affect the immune system are at risk in handling normally non-pathogenic microorganisms. If you believe that you have such a condition, you should consult your physician. Should your condition be confirmed, you will be excused from laboratory exercises using microorganisms.
  2. Living cultures of "harmless" microorganisms can become invaded or colonized by pathogenic ones. Although this is unlikely, it is always safest to treat all microorganisms as potentially pathogenic.

 All persons working with microorganisms must observe the following rules:

  1. Clothing coming in contact with microorganisms should be removed and washed. The best way to avoid the embarrassment of leaving crucial pieces of clothing behind in the lab is to wear a lab coat. Lab coats are required for these exercises and should be taken home in a plastic bag and washed frequently. 
  2. Never touch living microorganisms with any part of your body. If you do come in contact with microorganisms, was the affected area(s) thoroughly in soap and water.
  3. Keep laboratory doors closed at all times.
  4. Never eat or drink in the laboratory.
  5. Wash your hands frequently and before leaving the laboratory.
  6. Report any spills to an instructor so that they can be cleaned and disinfected.
  7. Never leave microbial cultures open to the air. Keep them covered at all times. Many microorganisms can become airbourne and inhaled.
  8. Sterilize all instruments that you use to handle microorganisms. Before working with microorganisms, you must be instructed on how this is done. 
  9. Place all used microscope slides in the jars of disinfectant provided.
  10. Place all culture vessels away from the edge of the lab bench and away from areas where they could be knocked over.