EH&S Promotes and Recognizes Safe Tissue Culture Practices by Vichelle Filoteo, Biological Safety Casual Staff

The EH&S Biosafety Team recently conducted an outreach program promoting  safe tissue culture practices at Columbia University. Summer interns visited laboratories to provide educational material to researchers and reinforce proper practices related to tissue culture waste decontamination, hand hygiene, and effective use of biological safety cabinets (BSCs). Areas of focus included BSCs in need of annual re-certification, HEPA filters not attached to vacuum lines, and observation of pink aspiration fluid in flasks, indicating an insufficient volume/concentration of bleach for decontamination.

Dr. CanollAfter visiting over 450 tissue culture work locations on the CUMC and Morningside campuses, the team noted that the laboratory of Dr. Peter D. Canoll exhibited exemplary safe tissue culture practices. The Canoll laboratory has two safety champions: Postdoctoral Researcher Jennifer Sims and Technician Jorge Samanamud, who manage a shared tissue culture room. They acknowledge the hazards of working with potentially infectious materials, such as pseudotyped viral vectors and human tissue, and they communicate the risks and associated controls to other staff, accordingly. Jennifer stated, “We have a level of safety consciousness that has to be cultivated by the whole laboratory in order to be passed down through training.”

When asked why their laboratory is outstanding when it comes to biosafety and tissue culture practices, Dr. Canoll (pictured with biological safety intern Vichelle Filoteo) responded, “It is mainly due to our laboratory members and our relationship with EH&S that has been instrumental to our success. Also, when we have inexperienced research students and technicians come through our laboratory, we place a high importance on safety and training to keep them and us safe.”

EH&S would like to thank Dr. Canoll, the Canoll Laboratory staff, and all who engaged with Biosafety personnel during the outreach program.  Please keep up the great work, and as always, please contact with any questions.

Inspection Ready by Hazardous Materials Team

An unannounced recent hazardous waste inspection at the Morningside campus by the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (NYSDEC), serves as another reminder of the importance of being inspection ready at all times. The For laboratories and other operations where chemical waste is generated, this means constant vigilance in adhering to the Columbia University 5 Ls of Hazardous Waste Management ( The 5Ls is a mnemonic device developed by EH&S to simply the complex regulations for the proper collection, storage and management of hazardous waste. The 5 Ls stand for: CoLLect, Label, Lid, Locate, and Leaks.

  • CoLLect all chemical waste-never treat in the laboratory or drain dispose.
  • Label all chemical waste containers with the Columbia University orange hazardous waste label and clearly list ALL the chemical contents on the label.
  • Close all container with a tight-fitting Lid, at all times; open containers allow waste to evaporate (which is not legal) and could allow waste to spill if knocked over.
  • Chemical waste containers must remain Located in the room where the waste was generated, not moved to other areas for convenience.
  • Check waste containers for Leaks, at least weekly, and evidence of leaks should be referred to EH&S immediately.

For more information, visit or contact a Hazardous Materials Specialist at

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