September 2013

EHS Waste Pickup Schedule (Labor Day)

EHS Waste Pickup Schedule - Labor Day


IBC Requirement to Register All Exempt rDNA Research

Effective September 1, 2013, the Institutional Biosafety Committee (IBC) requires that all experiments involving rDNA or synthetic nucleic acid molecules must be registered with the committee, including those considered exempt under Section III-F of the NIH Guidelines for Research Involving Recombinant or Synthetic Nucleic Acid Molecules (NIH Guidelines).  Considering the complexity of the NIH Guidelines and how research evolves over time, the committee has determined that registration of all such research will assist the University in maintaining compliance with the NIH Guidelines.

Research that is limited to the breeding of two genetically distinct transgenic rodent strains with the intent of creating a new transgenic strain that can be housed at ABSL1, covered under Appendix C-VIII of the NIH Guidelines, is excluded from this registration requirement.

The rDNA Registration Document template is available on the UIRIS website under EHS rDNA Research Registration.  In the upper right hand corner of the registration site is a link to a PDF containing the rDNA Instruction Guide for completing the registration document.  The NIH Guidelines are available here.  Please note: the “rDNA Research, NIH Guidelines” training course is available through EHS’s website.  All PIs and subordinate staff involved with rDNA research are required to complete this training course.

Questions can be addressed to:


Guide to the Self-Decomposition of Radiochemicals

Chemical compounds decompose over time during storage. The rate this takes place is specific to the compound. However, compounds labeled with radioisotopes typically decompose faster than their unlabeled counterparts due to radiolytic decomposition. The self-life of a radiochemical compound, the time during which a labeled compound may be used with confidence, is important to the user.

As a general guide, if stored under optimum conditions, H-3 and C-14 labeled compounds will typically decompose at an initial rate of 0.1 – 0.5% per month for the first 6 months. This rate may increase significantly with greater age or if stored in conditions other than those specified in the safety data sheet. Recommended storage conditions are normally included with each order.

Isotope Typical Observed Decomposition Rates
H-3 1 - 3% per month
C-14 1 - 3% per year
P-32 1 - 2% per week
S-35 2 - 3% per month
I-125 5% per month

While every radiochemical is shipped with specific storage instructions, here are a few principle guides that will help minimize decomposition.

  • Always consult the Safety Data Sheet that accompanies each radiochemical for the specific storage and handling recommendations for that product.
  • Store at the temperature indicated on the Safety Data Sheet.
  • Store at the lowest specific activity required for use, a compound at high specific activity will decompose faster due to radiolytic decomposition than at low specific activity.
  • Store as solutions – this effectively disperses the labeled molecules, decreasing the effect of radiolytic decomposition.
  • If repeated use is anticipated, avoid reopening of vials and warming/cooling cycles.  Sub aliquot in a number of vials keeping those to be used later in the refrigerator or freezer until required.
  • Store material in the dark and keep protected from the adverse effects of nearby chemicals.
  • Do not freeze the solution unless advised to do soon the safety data sheet.  If freezing the solution, it should be done rapidly, as a small volume.
  • Add free radical scavengers or other stabilizers – when compatible with the use.  Adding a free radical scavenger (e.g., 2 – 3% ethanol added to an aqueous solution) can lead to an increased shelf-life.
  • Recheck the purity of your radiolabelled products at appropriate intervals.  Always measure the purity of a radiolabelled product that has been stored for 6 months or more.  Consult the product data sheet for the appropriate analytical method.
  • Read additional information on managing radiochemical decomposition.

Sources: Radiation Review – UW-Madison Safety Department 2/2000; Radiochemical Product Information, Komabiotech 2005


Online iPS Cell Registration Document

Principal Investigators are asked to complete an informational form for the use of induced pluripotent stem (iPS) cells in their laboratory.  The Human Pluripotent Stem Cell Committee (hPSCC) uses this form to collect information on stem cell use at the University of Iowa.  The iPS registration document has been released as a webform on EHS’s website.  From EHS’s homepage click on Forms, and search under Biological Safety Webforms.  The Biosafety Section at EHS will review the form and contact the PI with any questions.


Lessons Learned: Lab Safety Incidents at Other Institutions
Cold Room Safety

The following is a summary of an incident that was submitted to the American Industrial Hygiene Association’s “Lab Safety Incidents - Lessons Learned” web page.  The language below is taken directly from this website.  This collection of incidents at this web location is intended to help others learn about how to prevent similar incidents or accidents.

Don't Store Dry Ice in Walk-in Refrigerators
Walk-in refrigerators (or "cold boxes") typically recirculate the chilled air in their interiors, so storing volatile materials in them can pose special hazards--any gases or vapors may concentrate inside over time.

Recently on the X Campus, a walk-in refrigerator was used to store dry ice. The dry ice was stored in a standard dry ice storage locker, but the locker had been placed in the cold box to further reduce the rate of dry ice loss. The dry ice, of course, gave off carbon dioxide (CO2) gas as it sublimed, causing the refrigerator to build up CO2 levels of 12,000 parts per million (ppm)!  In comparison, outdoor air contains only about 400 ppm CO2, and OSHA's Permissible Exposure Limit for CO2 is 5000 ppm. Although no one was affected, the incident points out the need to keep volatiles out of walk-in refrigerators.

If you have questions about storage of volatile materials in a cold room, you may contact LuAnn Hiratzka at 335-7964.


Common Sharps Sense – Top 10*

* Reproduced from a talk given by Dr. Kathryn Harris, NIH/OBA, at the Midwest Area Biosafety Network, Inc., on August 6, 2013.  The listed common sense items involving sharps reflect the types of actions that would have potentially prevented incidents that have been reported to OBA in recent years. 

  1. Conduct frequent training on proper sharps use and disposal.
  2. Pay special attention when using sharps; do not recap needles.
  3. Replace sharps disposal containers when 2/3 full. Don’t compact with hands or try to overstuff containers when they are getting full.
  4. Don’t place sharps disposal containers next to regular trash cans.
  5. Don’t “retrieve” items from sharps containers.
  6. Ensure animals are properly restrained or anesthetized before attempting an injection.
  7. Use plastic rather than glass, and use sharps with built-in safety features when possible.
  8. Inspect glassware carefully before use to avoid using cracked or damaged items.
  9. Carefully clean up broken items and disinfect contaminated equipment.
  10. Avoid multiple researchers working in close proximity with each other when using sharps, if possible.

New Unknown Chemical Test Request Form Online

We would like to introduce our new online submittal for testing unknown chemicals.  You no longer need to complete a paper request form, and only a single request needs to be made for multiple test requests.  On our website look under Waste Pickup Info/ Request to Test Unknown Chemicals.  Complete all information and click Submit.  For questions about this form, please contact Jim Pyrz at 335-4625.


Combining Recombinant DNA (rDNA) Protocols

Biosafety staff and members of the Institutional Biosafety Committee would like to ensure Principal Investigators (PIs) understand that they can combine their rDNA research into one protocol, if that serves their needs.  The goal is to assist PIs in the management of their rDNA research projects by minimizing the number of protocols that must be created, reviewed, and renewed.  A single rDNA protocol may cover multiple grants, funding agencies and Animal Protocols; the title of the rDNA protocol does not have to match that of a specific grant and multiple funding agencies can be listed in the text box. 

For questions, or if you would like assistance in combining some or all of your rDNA protocols, please contact Biosafety Staff at 335-8501.

Publish Date: 

Wednesday, August 28, 2013