ethidiumbromide fate

Samuel Gray samuel.gray at
Wed Mar 11 06:13:39 EST 1998

Peter Schuchert wrote in message <35057869.4779 at>...
>we routinely put ethidiumbromide into our
>agarose gels, which migrates then out of the gel
>during electrophoresis.
>Does anybody know what happens to the ethidiumbromide
>Is it electrolysed?
>How do other dispose of the buffer?

The ethidium bromide remains in the buffer and disposal of it is a problem
due to the extremely unpleasant nature of Eth.Br.  The method I use is to
store used buffer in 2.5 litre glass bottles with 2-3g of activated charcoal
for a few days. The buffer and charcoal mixture is then filtered through
whatman 3MM paper. The resulting filter paper and charcoal is then sealed in
plastic bags for incineration and the filtered buffer can be safely disposed
of down the drain.

It is a tedious process but (in the UK at least) it is illegal, unsafe and
irresponsible to simply pour the buffer containing ethidium bromide down the

Samuel Gray,
samuel.gray at

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