Electrophoresis safety question

rdudley at nrc.uab.edu rdudley at nrc.uab.edu
Thu Jun 18 10:21:08 EST 1998

In article <199806170539.OAA27883 at mboxhost.cc.nagasaki-u.ac.jp>,
  f1221 at CC.NAGASAKI-U.AC.JP (Jakobs) wrote:
> Dear Jen,
> An electrophoresis rig without the lid on is no life hazard.
> The most likely >accident< is that you stick
> one finger into the buffer : you don`t notice anything at all,
> at least not at 100 V (about 300 mA with our buffer).
> If you put two fingers into the tank (parallel to the current),
> you notice a slight tingling at about 10 V, if you increase the
> voltage to about 80 V, it becomes somewhat unpleasant.
> It is hardly possile to touch both leads at the same time by
> accident, but it is not recommendable.
> Electricity hazards (burns and upsetting the heart) depend more
> on the current and, in case of AC, on its frequency as the heart
> is not equally vulnerable to all frequencies.
> If you hold your finger into the tank of an electrophoresis
> chamber, >most of< the current (DC) will still pass through the buffer
> because it has a lower resistance than skin.
> Sequencing gels can be more violent.
> I once toched the front glass plate of a sequencing gel, which must
> have had a buffer leak. The shock did almost >blast me against the wall<,
> as Wolfgang put it. Obviously, I`m still alive but I was quite impressed.
> Best Regards,
> Jota
> _______________________________
> Dr. T. Jakobs
> Inst. of Human Genetics
> University of Nagasaki
> Japan

Just an FYI about sequencing gels--2000V is the setting used on Alabama's
electric chair.


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