Electrophoresis safety question

Koichi Kunitake kunitake at salk.edu
Sun Aug 2 15:10:16 EST 1998

In article <3586E885.1C1B at chugaibio.com>, dspinella at chugaibio.com,
@chugaibio.com wrote:

<major snippage>
   While I have never touched a 100V agarose gel when it was running, we
had a guy who worked in the lab who was running a sequencing gel at about
2000V. We of course ran the gel with a metal plate behind it to soak up
the heat, but it turns out that the upper reservoir was leaking and it
leaked onto the metal plate, which was also contacting the lower
reservoir, since the buffer in the lower reservoir was wicked up the back
of the plate. 
   Anyway, this guy had his hand on the underside of the lab bench, (which
was metal), and he grabbed the metal heat sink. He described it to me as
getting a "tremendous blast", and he said his arms were numb for about 10
minutes. Seems like other than that, there were no long-lasting effects,
neurological or otherwise, and he's now in grad school, doing fine. seems
pretty scary, since the current traveled between both hands, basically
right near his heart. 
   So I tend to think that agarose gels at 100V (I actually run them at
150V) are mostly harmless. (Not that I would test this empirically,


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