By Philip Lin
Have you ever really looked into those biohazard boxes? You know the ones I’m talking about, those cardboard boxes, lined with red plastic, located at either end of the room. Filled with miscellaneous plastic plates, glassware tubes, and crumpled paper towels, the biohazard box is something that most people don’t even deem worthy of thinking about. After all, it’s just trash. I mean, who even cares? The significance is not the trash itself, but at the shocking amount of waste that biology labs, especially microbiology labs, must go through for the sake of sanitation and aseptic procedure.
We toss out paper towels soaked with Cidecon to disinfect our benches. We leave bunsen burners on in order to create updrafts. We throw away glass pipetting tubes that we’ve used for top agar. We dump microcentrifuge tubes that have even left their containers. We trash plates of negative controls. We must discard our gloves each time we leave the room. Although it seems wasteful to throw away all of this labware, there’s a reason for it all. Although the smeg and phages are not particularly dangerous to our health, we don’t want to run the risk of infection at all. In addition, keeping our environment aseptic will prevent us from ruining our quest for pure phages. Any stray bacteria or phage could compromise either our health or our results. Although it may not be perfect, disposing of infected material is one of the best ways to keep our environment as uncontaminated as possible.