Glasswool for DNA purification-how nasty is it?

Andrew Cockburn afc at
Tue Apr 26 10:30:54 EST 1994

In article <9404252120.AA15346 at>, bsh at MED.PITT.EDU (Basavaraju Shankarappa) writes:
>> Hello, hello again...
>> I've been trying to use saturated NaI to dissolve agarose gel slices and
>> bind the DNA trapped therein onto acid-washed glasswool (which is easier to
>> handle than the various loose Celite/diatomaceous earth particles I've
>> tried).  I get some (30% ?) recovery of DNA after washing the glasswool,
>> drying it, and eluting the DNA in TE buffer at about 60 C.  Of course, I'd
>> like something closer to 100% recovery...
> [stuff deleted]
>> Ed Beaty
>> Ed_Beaty at
> 	From what I know,  glasswool is much worse than asbestos
> in being nasty to your lungs.  Before anyone ventures out using glasswool
> for routine purifications, may be you ought to find out how nasty is 
> this really is.  I do know that not everyone is going to handle glasswool
> inside a hood, specially when you have a large number of samples to process and
> with extensive handling.  Please expand or contradict, because my knowledge is
> limited in this.  
> 	Raj Shankarappa
> 	bsh at

The glasswool that I have worked with is just fiberglass.  It has a diameter 
thousands of times larger than asbestos.  Hence it is not capable of entering
cells (it is larger in diameter than cells) and won't have the transformation 
effect of asbestos.  The only nasty effects that I know of are itching when 
you rub it on your skin.

At the risk of starting a flame war, let me point out that the nasty effects
of asbestos are overstated.  In order to get serious disease, you need to 
inhale large quantities of the wrong kind of asbestos over a long period
of time and smoke tobacco. In other words, if you are not a miner and don't
smoke, you have nothing to worry about.  Unless, of course, you are a taxpayer
and are footing the bill for billions of dollars of useless asbestos abatement.

Andrew Cockburn

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