Announcement: Rascal Controlled Substance Appendix by Kevin McGhee, Biological Safety Officer

EH&S and IACUC have partnered with CUIT’s RASCAL team to develop a hazardous materials appendix for tracking the use of controlled substances in the course of research involving animal models. Principal Investigators using controlled substances for their animal care protocols will now be prompted to complete Appendix I to describe the use and management of these materials (see www.rascal.columbia.edu). This new appendix allows oversight to ensure the appropriate use and management of controlled substances, with assistance by EH&S as necessary. The appendix functions in the same way as each of the existing RASCAL appendices for documenting the use of hazardous materials. Users must visit the Hazardous Materials section of the RASCAL site to create an appendix, which will then be attached to the applicable animal care protocol.

Principal Investigators working with controlled substances, along with any authorized users operating under their respective licenses, are required to adhere to the University’s Policy for the Acquisition, Use, and Disposal of Controlled Substances in Research (http://ehs.columbia.edu/ControlledSubstances.html) and must complete RASCAL course TC0502 – Controlled Substances Use and Management in Research.  Principal Investigators working with these materials must be individually licensed by NYSDOH and USDOJ DEA and are accountable to both agencies for the use of controlled substances in their activities; EH&S is available for consultation by emailing controlled@columbia.edu.

Once More into the Bleach; Aspiration and Expectation in Tissue Culture by Christopher Aston, Senior Biological Safety Officer

This is the second of a two-part series on performing effective bleach decontamination in laboratories (see SafetyMatters, Winter 2014).

Aspiration of tissue culture media into a collection flask, under vacuum, is one of the most commonly performed laboratory procedures. University Policy, outlined in the Biological Safety Manual, requires that such media be decontaminated prior to disposal in the municipal sewer system.

Effective decontamination is simple, following these instructions. Before aspiration, add undiluted bleach to fill 10% of the final volume of the collection flask. Bleach is an effective decontaminant with the added advantage that its strong oxidizing properties will turn the phenol red indicator in tissue culture media from pink to yellow/clear. Aspiration flasks containing pink liquid indicate insufficient bleach concentration, and should be topped off with fresh bleach until a yellow/clear color is achieved prior to additional aspiration or disposal. Empty the collection flasks when they are 3/4 full, or at least weekly.  EH&S will be distributing magnets this summer depicting tissue culture disinfection practices, making this information available at researcher’s fingertips.

Since the oxidizing properties of bleach break down over time, stock bottles should be labeled with a receipt date upon arrival and used, or discarded, within six months to ensure potency. Bleach used for routine decontamination must be diluted one part bleach to nine parts water and prepared fresh daily. Vacuum lines must be protected with an in-line HEPA filter. Closing the valve on the vacuum line when not in use will prevent collection flasks from drying out.

The University’s Biological Safety Manual (http://ehs.columbia.edu/Policy2.7.html) is a valuable resource for investigators and describes in detail how to appropriately dispose of tissue culture materials.

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