Why Is It Important to Keep a Sterile Environment in the Lab?

January 12, 2021


Why Is It Important to Keep a Sterile Environment in the Lab?
Lab microscopes

Lab work can be rather exciting when it comes down to doing experiments or analyzing how compounds react with one another. There are plenty of things that can go wrong within the lab and if you are not taking the time to sterilize the environment, not only are you opening the door for these types of disasters, but there are plenty more things that can happen. Here are some of the reasons why it is important to ensure that your lab is sterile.

 

Fumes Can be Toxic


If you are burning off chemicals or mixing compounds together, they might react in ways that produce smoke or other harmful gasses that can be toxic if inhaled. While your lab might have a fume hood to help transport these gasses out right away, how efficient is it? When was the last time you had it looked at? The experts at TOPAIR strongly advise looking at your current fume hood or fume cabinet to see how efficient it is at what it does. If it is in need of repair, you should definitely consider having it looked at or purchasing a new one.

 

If you don’t have a fume hood or fume cabinet at all, you will have to invest in one. Not every lab procedure will need to use it, however you never know what might happen during a reaction. Fume hoods are important not just for preventing toxic gasses either. If these glasses are not ventilated out of the room, they linger and can mix and mingle with other chemicals. This can cause further contamination and further reaction. Toxic fumes have to be ventilated out and your air has to be sterile if you want to have a successful laboratory.


Chemicals and Compounds Can Mix


As mentioned above, if your environment is not properly cleaned, chemicals can mix with each other and produce reactions that you are not prepared for. Certain reactions might be entirely safe, however when another element is added into the mix, a new hazardous material might be created that will react in a way that you are not prepared for. This is a worst case scenario, however it is something that you have to be prepared and ready for. The other main reason why you have to keep your surfaces clean of chemicals is that they will contaminate your procedures.

 

Lab work has to be extremely specific and any external factors can change the resulting analysis. If a surface has not been cleaned from previous testing, it will play a role in your new procedures. This can cause certain chemical reactions to fail entirely, or your analysis to produce false data. If you have been contracted out to provide an analysis and it turns out to be incorrect, your own reputation is on the line. Always ensure that you are cleaning your surfaces after every procedure so there is no chance that chemicals and compounds can mix and contaminate your results.


Chemicals Can Create Further Hazards


Another reason to ensure that you are always cleaning your lab and ensuring that it is sterile is that future hazards can be avoided. Some chemicals and compounds change states after exposure to the air after a certain amount of time. What this means is that you might be opening the door for slipping hazards along with corrosive compounds. Slipping hazards can not only result in you getting injured, but you could also damage and break expensive lab equipment during your fall.

 

Corrosion on the other hand will slowly eat away at whatever surface the chemical has been exposed to, often resulting in permanent damage. A lot of these things can be avoided if you ensure that you are following the correct disposal and cleaning methods. Also, please ensure that whenever you dispose of a chemical or a compound, you have read the label and know how to safely dispose of it. Certain chemicals and compounds cannot simply be thrown out or washed down a drain. They can further damage your lab and cause all of sorts of issues to the environment around it. Prevent further hazards by ensuring that your lab is sterile and following correct procedures.

 


These are all important reasons as to why you have to keep a sterile lab environment. Safety should always be the number one priority, especially when you are working with potentially harmful compounds. A sterile lab will also increase your credibility and result in future work. Chemicals should never be played with and every experiment should be conducted safely to ensure the safety of everyone working. What steps do you plan on taking to ensure that you have a sterile and safe lab?

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