Team:PuiChing Macau/Safety

General Lab Safety

The laboratory we use is classified as Biosafety Level 1, which shows that the microorganisms we use are almost harmless to humans. All biological wastes will be disinfected before disposal to ensure that no genetically modified organisms are disposed of in the environment.

In our laboratory, the safety of researchers is ensured. Eye washers/baths and personnel shower are placed in an easily accessible position, the fire alarm is installed, fire extinguisher and blanket are equipped near the door, vinyl floor and ceiling are inert, and the paint on the wall is easy to clean. There is also an observation board on the door to ensure that the risk of accidents or injuries when researchers enter and leave the laboratory is reduced.

Training and Precaution in Our team

We will ask our participants to read the safety and security rules and policies on iGEM website. Also, Safety and Security training has been given to all students before any experiments. Instructions of experiments will be given to students beforehand. Advice and guidelines from the Faculty of Health Science of the University of Macau are provided. This allows the PI, Ms. Wai Man Cheong, who has been managing a laboratory in our school for decades, to oversee the iGEM team risk management procedures and receive suggestions from experts should it be outside their range of experience. Risk Assessment forms for individual procedures and guidelines for using chemicals were introduced to all students before the project lab experiment start. All experiments will be performed under instructions or supervision of instructors, technicians, professors, or teachers (all with appropriate higher education degree).

Rules of our lab

  • In order to ensure that students do not accidentally eat any genetically modified organisms, eating dan drinking is not allowed in the lab.
  • Toe shoes and contact lenses are also prohibited from entering the laboratory.
  • Liquid biological waste (e.g. bacterial culture supernatant) will also be thermally inactivated by autoclaving. The product can then be treated through normal drains.
  • Sharp waste (such as needles and scalpels) in sharp containers will be heat treated through the clinical waste stream. Biological waste spills will be cleaned with disposable paper towels and the workbench will be disinfected with 70% ethanol.
  • Goggles and strainers are provided to protect the user's eyes from strong blue light.
  • In addition, the safe use of laboratory equipment (such as centrifuges) was demonstrated prior to allowing the use in the lab.

Lab in Macau

In Macau, there are guidelines from the government regarding biosafety in research labs, which will help us to manage the risks.

Project - Specific Biosafety

Only disabled laboratory strains of Escherichia coli that are incapable of colonizing the mammalian intestine (Chart et al, 2001) will be used. Disabled strains of E. coli are also not expected to survive in the environment in competition with the wild type strains.

The DNA constructs transformed to the recipient strains will not offer any particular survival advantage in the wild or introduce harmful genes, or gene products. The vectors used are not transmissible, limiting the potential for horizontal gene transfer. Constructs may confer antibiotic resistance to strains.

In order to avoid the release of drug resistance genes into the environment, all E. coli strains transformed with this structure and solid and liquid in contact with DNA, as well as structures carrying antibiotic resistance gene information, will be inactivated by autoclaving and then disposed of. Regarding the disposal of chemicals in our experiment, since no concentrated chemical will be used during our experiment, we will dispose of one chemical each time, and flushed to drain with a large excess of water to ensure adequate dilution.

Food waste fermentation is required to process the bioplastic production in our system

Since we are using food waste as the raw material of PLA and PHA production system, we have collected food waste from the communities, the storage of the food waste is the important part of us. In order not to contaminate and keep the lab clean, we store the collected food in the refrigerator. Furthermore, during the experiment, we would ensure we stay in a well-ventilated environment.

Usually, such fermentations are accompanied with smell and have to be operated/stored in a closed environment. However, there is limited space available in city districts. Therefore, we would need to further provide a solution, e.g. transportation with fermented food waste in plastic barrels, which would allow our project to enter the real world properly.

Also, as we are using sodium hydroxide for our experiment, we store it in an area that is: cool, dry, well-ventilated, separate from incompatible materials.


Macao Special Administrative Region Government Health Bureau Public health laboratory service. Clinical Laboratory Biosafety Guidelines(2009),