EtBr safety procedures

R.G. Walters mbrgw at
Fri Jun 11 06:09:10 EST 1993

In article <1993Jun11.094742.15386 at> GBGA13 at VMS3.GLASGOW.AC.UK (BLC) writes:
>Think of the cleaners, for example, in your laboratory.

And think how you would cope if the cleaners refused (justifiably) to remove
rubbish from your lab, because they couldn't trust the lab to be safe?

>Acridines bind to DNA, by intercalation in some (all?) cases and 
>are ptential or actual mutagens.  EtBr can certainly be used to 
>stain animal chromosomes (look down the microscope) and it is 
>mutagenic in the Ames test with microsomal activation, therefore 
>it is a potential mutagen for animal cells.  It is also, 
>therefore, a potential carcinogen.  No matter how low the risks 
>actually are, laboratory workers should therefore take 
>appropriate protective measures.

I believe that it will also crosslink (especially if tickled with UV),
inhibiting replication (hence the petite mutants of yeast). So don't get it
on your fingers when near transilluminators.

As for its use to treat sheep against wee beasties (mentioned in an earlier
posting), I strongly suspect that it is this use which has been responsible
for EtBr not being classified more strongly than "hazardous".  Who'd want
a lot of French farmers on the streets, complaining that they weren't
allowed to treat their sheep anymore? Much better to let them slosh the stuff
around left right and centre :-)

Robin Walters.                      Robert Hill Institute, Sheffield UK.

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