Essential Tips for a Safe, Productive Lab

Editor’s note: Seven critical tips were included in the December issue of ADVANCE for Administrators of the Laboratory. Below are three additional tips.

1. Preventing Contamination
Optimizing the growth of your valuable cell cultures depends on preventing contamination in your CO2 incubator. Proven technology innovations have demonstrated effectiveness. In-chamber HEPA air filtration can provide Class 100 (ISO-5) air quality clean-room conditions. High-temperature decontamination can conveniently clean your incubator to eliminate need for separate autoclaving and component re-assembly. The use of filtercap tissue culture flasks are a best practice because typical vent/close caps can expose the culture to an open environment. Further, 0.2 micron filtration of cell culture fluids that are manipulated in the laboratory, such as lab mixed buffers or media with additives, is an effective way to guard against microbial contamination.

2. Monitor Equipment Temperatures
Once your samples are prepared, they need to be safely stored. To ensure the security and integrity of samples stored in CO2 incubators or refrigerators/freezers, it is critical to take every precaution to make certain temperature-controlled laboratory equipment is performing at the right temperature – 24 hours/day x 7 days/week. Make sure your equipment is serviced regularly and back-up alarms are in proper working order. For added protection, a remote monitoring system is ideal to assure safe sample protection by allowing workers to remotely check the status anytime, anywhere with notifications if parameters change. Not only do these remote systems monitor the temperature, they also monitor the relative humidity, CO2 and differential pressure with customizable alarms to alert if any of the pre-set parameters are breached.

3. Train and Retrain
Having equipment with advanced technologies is only half the battle. Lapses in aseptic technique are probably the most common cause of lab contamination. Laboratory personnel need to be well trained on both safe equipment operation and effective lab practices. It’s critical that your lab conducts regular training to teach safe and effective use of equipment and technologies and review the safety protocols in your lab.

Dr. Gorlick is senior product manager of filtration at Thermo Fisher Scientific. Mary Kay Bates is global cell culture specialist at Thermo Fisher Scientific.

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