Ethidium bromide

Michael Witty mw132 at
Tue Jul 17 06:56:55 EST 2001

Does anyone have any medical or epidemiological data about people getting
sick from EtBr?  Especially at the concentration we use?

Before I am howled down, I once went through an interesting experience
with a new safety officer who notice I was using sodium azide.  She
considered it to be "poisonous" and made me do some library research
on how to use it safely.  This is in spite of the fact that I and my
collegues had been using the stuff at 0.02% for decades.  I found out
that the "poisonous" sodium azide is not really good a poisoning people
at all (I found some medical papers on accidental ingestion of the
stuff, though it is a very bad local irritant).

Can we say the same thing about EtBr ie that it is "safe" at the level we
use it at?  Mike

> Besides the sensitivity, i don't like to have all the electrophoresis tanks full
> of EtBr. I was a fervent supporter of EtBr into the gels until i checked the
> surrounding area, the power pack and pippetes the for EtBr contamination....
> scary results. I don't like the looking of the pre-stained gels either, since
> the EtBr runs towards the cathode the upper (or lower, depending how you look at
> the gel) part of the gel has a high background and the opposite part is almost
> destained. On the other hand, staining and destaining don't take (usually) more
> than 10 minutes. For urgent gels we still keep a contaminated electrophoresis
> tank in a special area of the lab.
> Sergio

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