3 Best Practices for Preventing Contamination in Life Science Laboratories

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Deb Shechter
Jul 16, 2015
min read
3 Best Practices for Preventing Contamination in Life Science Laboratories

Biological contamination is a constant threat in life science laboratories, and there is frankly no “bulletproof” way to prevent it. Yet with that being said, there are certainly proven ways to help minimize the risk of contamination, which not only saves time and money, but even more importantly, helps keep laboratory personnel safe.

With this in mind, here are 3 best practices to maintain the integrity of cell cultures, and promote a safe laboratory environment: 

1. Use Appropriate Lab Design

It is important that the lab has a specific area that is only used for cell culture. This area should be as far away as is practical from high-traffic areas, and it should only be accessed by authorized personnel. HVAC units, sinks, and other items or equipment should also be placed accordingly so as to minimize accidents or contamination. This is because the back splash from sinks can be a source of microbial contamination, and poorly-placed HVAC units can blow mold spores into the cell culture area.

2. Use Correct Culturing Procedures

All lab personnel should be trained to follow correct culturing procedure, which includes proper aseptic techniques. For example, it is vital to work with one cell at a time in order to avoid unintentional switching of cell lines, which can ultimately lead to flawed and unreliable data. It is also important to test for mycoplasma on a monthly basis, as well as to avoid routine antibiotics, as these can hide the existence of underlying contamination. And of course, Good Pipetting Practice (GPP) is essential to support sample integrity and accuracy. 

3. Use Suitable Cleaning Procedures 

It is necessary to implement standardized laboratory cleaning and disinfecting processes, and to ensure that they pertain to both work and non-work surfaces – since such surfaces rapidly collect potential contaminants such as dust. A sufficiently-stocked Biological Safety Cabinet (BSC) is also critical, and it should be placed in an area that is accessible, ensures appropriate air flow and filtration, and of course, prevents contamination. 

Also keep in mind that the BSC is exposed to microorganisms every time the door is opened. As such, advanced incubator design is required. For example, some incubator designs feature HEPA filtration that establishes ISO 5 cleanroom conditions within five minutes of the door opening. Other designs use a 100% pure copper internal chamber and components, and use high temperature decontamination. And there are also designs that feature CO2 sensors and humidity control.

The Bottom-Line

Although, as noted above, it is impossible to 100% prevent the possibility of contamination in laboratory science environments, there certainly are proven ways to mitigate the risk. These include appropriate lab design, correct culturing procedures, and suitable cleaning procedures. 

Pion Laboratory High Pressure Homogenizers

At Pion, our laboratory high pressure homogenizers are designed for sanitary applications, easy to clean and maintain, which make them an essential part of an overall system to help reduce the risk of contamination in life science laboratories -- which saves money and time, and helps keep laboratory personnel safe and out of harm’s way.

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