Lab animal allergens can be a serious health concern for those who work with animals at the UW; it’s important to understand the health risks and how to protect yourself. EH&S has resources that can help.
Particularly Hazardous Substances (PHS) are chemicals that pose a high risk to employees in the workplace. Work with these substances requires specialized training from your PI or supervisor, and customized standard operating procedures (SOPs) that identify designated work areas, containment devices (such as fume hoods and glove boxes), procedures for decontamination, and prior approvals before work begins.
After a research group has moved or left the University, the department may be faced with handling a variety of hazards. There may be chemicals, radioactive materials, biological materials, and equipment containing hazardous materials that must be managed before a new group takes ownership of the space.
Although bats are a key part of our ecosystem, it is important to remember that a small proportion of bats in Washington state carry rabies, a deadly disease in the saliva of infected animals.
You may have noticed bats flying around campus. They are commonly seen flying at dusk, which is normal and not a cause for concern. However, if a bat is found on the ground or indoors, it may be an indication of something wrong with the bat.
Do-it-yourself repairs or projects that disturb walls, floor tiles, ceilings, fixtures and other building materials can expose you to substances that pose serious health risks.
University policy prohibits any “do-it-yourself” construction, renovation or modification of University buildings. Even simple projects, such as hammering a nail into a wall, can expose you to hazardous chemicals and result in regulatory fines.
Does your biological safety cabinet (BSC) have an ultraviolet (UV) lamp in it? If so, it may not be as effective for sterilization/decontamination purposes as you need it to be.
Ultraviolet radiation is a form of non-ionizing radiation, and biological effects from it vary with wavelength, photon energy, and duration of exposure. The 100-280 nm wavelength band is designated as UV-C, which is used for germicidal purposes.
The sterilization/decontamination activity of UV lights is limited by a number of factors, including:
Several universities in the northwest have been subjected to unannounced regulatory inspections recently by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) or by the Washington State Department of Ecology. At least one university received a fine for non-compliance worth tens of thousands of dollars.
During 2018's National Biosafety Month, you are encouraged to focus attention on biosafety policies and practices. Investigators and laboratory managers can raise biosafety awareness, discuss the importance of safety, and seek input on ways to strengthen biosafety in their labs. This year, EH&S is focusing on ways you can promote a culture of safety.
1. Know your responsibilities as a principal investigator (PI).
Has an EH&S representative visited your lab lately? If not, chances are good that one of our safety ambassadors will visit soon to review the Laboratory Safety Checklist, a list of 78 questions addressing a variety of topics including chemical safety, training of personnel, personal protective equipment and emergency preparedness.