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Joint Research Group Macromolecular Crystallography


Protein samples

Prior to arrival, the users have to declare the samples they bring to the beamline filling out the safety information in GATE. For every protein and project, individual safety information must be provided. This includes information about source and host origin and their class of risk, the status of the sample (frozen in loop, capillary, in tray), information about hazardous ligands and additional equipment needed (laser, cooler,...).


Hazardous waste and harmful items

Users are advised to follow the safety guidelines and have to dispose toxically waste, heavy atom solutions, glass and sharp items in provided bins.

Liquid nitrogen

Users have to be aware that the use of liquid nitrogen handling is only permitted to instructed persons.

  • Nitrogen can spatter (possibly in eyes) while being poured.
  • Flying chunks of frozen objects could cause eye injury.
  • Contact with nitrogen can cause tissue damage.

Therefore specific safety precautions include:

  • Do not touch frozen objects or nitrogen.
  • Wear goggles whenever pouring or dumping nitrogen. Nitrogen can spatter into the eyes, and potentially blinding pieces of frozen things can fly around when one drop it.
  • Use a glove and / or tongs to handle any object going into or out of nitrogen and to carry the nitrogen dewar.

First aid instructions

If cryogenic liquid or cold boil off contacts a worker's skin or eyes, frozen tissues should be flooded or soaked with tepid water.  DO NOT USE HOT WATER. Cryogenic burns which result in blistering or deeper tissue freezing should be seen promptly by a physician.

Enriching with oxygen

If liquid nitrogen is used for deep cooling, its residence time in open dewar vessels must be limited. Liquid oxygen and liquid air may not be used for deep cooling.

A brief residence time prevents oxygen from condensing into the nitrogen. Nitrogen enriched with oxygen, liquid air and liquid oxygen can form mixtures with organic materials which may explode. Oxygen that has condensed in can only be recognized in rare cases by the slight blue coloration of the liquid nitrogen. Covering the Dewar vessel correctly can slow down the condensing in of oxygen significantly. It should be borne in mind that the cover may be damaged through embrittlement. Covers that have been lost or damaged must be replaced. Nitrogen from dewar vessels must not be returned to storage vessels.

Source: Working Safely in Laboratories, Deutsche Gesetzliche Unfallversicherung, BGI 850-0e, 1st Edt. 12/2008

Needles and cannulae

Needles must be disposed of in needle containers without being touched. Cannulae should not be returned to their protective sleeve without appropriate aids.

Needle-stick injuries can occur when working with syringes and cannulae. Gloves made of cut-resistant fabrics often only offer limited protection against such injuries. In addition to the risk of infection, there is also a risk of incorporating hazardous materials. Single-use items are advantageous, provided they are sufficiently strong for the intended purpose. In some cases, cannulae, needles and septa can be replaced by threaded tubes and hoses. Hoses made of PTFE and polyethylene are normally suitable if they have a small diameter and are sufficiently rigid.

Source: Working Safely in Laboratories, Deutsche Gesetzliche Unfallversicherung, BGI 850-0e, 1st Edt. 12/2008