Ethidium bromide

Nick Theodorakis nicholas_theodorakis at
Wed Jul 18 09:10:11 EST 2001

In <180720011200272778%dmicklem at cmgm.nospam.invalid>, David 
Micklem wrote:
>In article <3b5528b7$1 at>, Bruno Cenni
><bruno.removethis.cenni at> wrote:


>>We used EtBr to differentiate apoptotic/necrotic/live unfixed cells in the
>>microscope, those with an intact cell membrane won't stain with EtBr 
>>it's charged and won't enter...
>Which surely suggests that it is unlikely to _actually_ be a serious
>human mutagen since it is unable to enter live cells.

Yes, it's mutagenic only to dead cells ;-)

>I'm not advocating taking a bath in the stuff, but is there any
>available _evidence_  to justify EtBr's role as the bogeyman of the
>mol-bio lab?  
>There are a lot of hazardous materials/procedures in mol-bio labs but
>none of the others seem to generate quite the sort of safety-hysteria
>that EtBr does.

Around here, the EHS dept. worries more about formaldehyde exposure, 
since there is a documented risk, it's volatile, and its familiarity seems to 
make workers more casual about exposure.


Nick Theodorakis
nicholas_theodorakis at


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