alternatives to ethidium bromide

Marc mlamphier at
Wed Jul 5 21:37:24 EST 2000

Bernie Cohen <b.l.cohen at> wrote in message
news:b.l.cohen-0407001147040001 at
> Ignoring the potential (unproved) hazards of ethidium bromids and using
> sloppy techniques may be acceptable to the individual concerned, but is
> selfish and inconsiderate. The sloppy worker may have made a personal
> "pact with the devil" and be willing to accept unnecessary risks, but
> laboratories also contain staff (e.g. cleaners, delivery-persons,
> technicians, secretaries) who do not wish to take such risks. These people
> MUST be protected by everyone using best practice.

Let me add 2 points to the above. One is that in any organization perception
is reality. Even if you have good reason to believe EthBr won't cause
problems, it is probably not possible to convince everyone of this. Keeping
EthBr off of doorknobs makes for a happy and harmonious community. Secondly,
as a responsible employer my company must observe any and all worker safety
and environmental safety regulations. If a chemical is a known mutagen any
discussion about "how dangerous is it really?" is off the table. In an
extreme case an employee might be able to sue the company if it could be
shown that the company was less than rigorous in preventing exposure of
employees to a "known mutagen". I don't think the person would have to get
cancer. They would just have to show that they were exposed to a potential
carcinogen and that the company was negligent. Worse yet, they might get
cancer and claim that the sloppy handling of ethidium bromide and other
carcinogens at the company contributed to this. I don't know, I am not a
lawyer. But these are the kinds of things our safety officer has to

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