Electrophoresis safety question

Wolfgang Schechinger wgschech at med.uni-tuebingen.de
Tue Jun 16 15:03:59 EST 1998

Hi Jen. 

I'd strongly recommend to run the chambers only with their lids on.

If your power supply outlet is not connected in any way with the 
mains or the ground, touching ONE wire or the buffer with 
ONE finger shouldn't harm you. 
If you touch two wires of 100volts AC, you'll get an electric shock 
that will blast you against the wall. It's probably like that one 
you'll get when your heart doesn't beat and a doctor tries to 
re-animate you with two electrodes placed on your chest.
even if you immerse two fingers in the buffer, your fingers will be 
in a voltage gradient, and a current will run through your fingers or 
through you body, if you immerse both hands. 

It must not be a deadly shock that you'll receive but shurely it will 
be one you will remember all your life. 

If you use a supply where mains voltage just passes a rectifier, 
touching the apparatus with one hand probably will be the last 
experiment you perform.

Some years ago, I touched the leads of an large capacitor 
that was disconnected from the supply for some time but still had a 
voltage of only 50 volts. (I measured the voltage 
afterweards.) I still remember. But that's OT

We use chambers where the power supply wires come through the 
lid, so we can't operate the apparatus without cover. That should be 
a safety standard.

Electrophorese your experiment's proteins and genes, not yours.

Sorry for the drastic words

> We run alot of horizontal agarose gels in our lab using standard
> power packs at 100V (DC -- up to 3 amps) with 1X TAE running buffer.
> A number of people run their gels without the lid on, meaning there
> are open gel rigs running on the bench.	My question is:  Is this
> dangerous, and, if so, how dangerous?  I know that if I actually
> touched the wires in the box I would be badly (fatally?) shocked. 
> Would touching the buffer with one (unprotected) hand do anything to
> me?  With both hands?  With nitrile gloves on?
> I don't know enough about electricity to know how dangerous this is.
> Intuitively, it seems bad, but in reality perhaps it isn't.  I
> always wear gloves when working around the boxes, because of EtBr,
> but I am always a little worried about taking a gel out of a rig
> only to find it on for some reason. It's not the sort of thing I
> want to experiment with on my own, and was hoping someone with more
> lab experience would have some insight into this.
> Thanks in advance,
> Jen Griffin
> jgriffin at incyte.com
> http://www.incyte.com
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usual disclaimers apply * This message is RNAse free - please don't touch!
Wolfgang Schechinger         
University of Tuebingen, Germany
email: wgschech at med.uni-tuebingen.de * wwWait: http://www.medizin.uni-tuebingen.de/~wgschech/start.htm

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