🧫 Laboratory techniques for biologists

Health and safety


Much biological research relies on the use of chemicals and organisms. Some of these are an inherent health and safety hazard. For example, most pure chemicals are irritants in certain doses, while others such as organic solvents and fungicides can be straight-up lethal to humans even in small doses.


This is why labs are run with a clear health and safety framework in place. This varies from lab to lab, depending on the research being carried out, and can include security clearance access to certain parts of the lab, designated first aid officers, clothing and personal protective equipment (PPE) guidelines and supervision systems.


For example, lab coats and nitrile gloves are standard procedure in most labs, and in more chemistry-focused labs, protective goggles too.


Beyond the risks present to lab workers, some items used in labs can be dangerous to other organisms and the environment once leaked into the outside world. Some chemicals will kill aquatic life or other animals, even if safe for humans. Therefore, depending on the usage of these chemicals, some labs will have a building-wide implementation of waste disposal and filtering as well as chemical dilution practices to minimise this risk.


Commonly, waste is incinerated to remove the risk of these materials reaching public spaces and the natural environment, whether they are toxic chemicals or genetically modified…