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How to get rid of Ethidium Bromide? - (Dec/10/2005 )

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Hi everyone,

We have a heavily EtBr-contaminated gel doc system in our lab. I would to ask how can I decontaminate the system or at least get rid most of the EtBr.

Thank you very much in advance, really appreciate your helps.


Some people will use Decon (detergent) to remove it. Some will just use 70% ethanol and restrict this area/machine and assigned it for Ethidium Bromide stuff forever.

To be safe, you can try using SYBR Safe from Molecular Probes as an alternative to Ethidium Bromide. This has been tested not carcinogenic.


I was told to clear glasses and surfaces that could be in contact with EtBr with a water+bleach solution, does anyone of you confirm that?
In my experience, Sybr doesn't work as well as EtBr. However, generally we use sybr everyday for routine works and EtBr for very important works...

restrict this area/machine and assigned it for Ethidium Bromide stuff forever.

This is the safetst thing to do...


I agree, don't use it for anything else ever. For keeping it clean, just use soap and water though

-John Buckels-

dO NOT USE BLEACH. It potentializes carcinogenic effects of EtBr...


i always use an EtOH squirt bottle..wipe a couple times with paper towel after every use...or, soap first, then EtOH to remove residues

I did not know that about bleach, fred???? wow! that is a good piece of information to have



dO NOT USE BLEACH. It potentializes carcinogenic effects of EtBr...

very sounded a bit strange, but I am not allowed to discuss this kind of procedures...
Fred, please can you help me to provide some evidence of it? Can you explain me the chemical/carcinogenic mechanism laying behind???


Using bleach is controversial. A study had found trace amounts of rxn products that were more mutagenic than the EtBr.

Still no one really has a solid answer for this. Probably better to be safe than sorry. And I've never met anyone who got cancer in their hands from using EtBr anyway.


The onlly time we ever had to decontaminate Et-Br we bought destining bags from Amresco. They are e.z. to use and look like tee bags.


a google seach with EtBR decontamination as subject gives many protocols. and i think there is quite as many protocols as hygien and security departments... huh.gif
but it seems that procedures are different if concentration is high or low to moderate. that's told me the google search.

It has been one practice to inactivate EtBr solutions by treatment with bleach. This method is not recommended as it can result in incomplete destruction of the mutagenic properties of the EtBr, and potentially produces more mutagenic compounds1. There has also been one report of an explosion occurring after inactivation with bleach was carried out in a Winchester bottle containing acid residue2. The lid was closed on the bottle overnight and chlorine gas built up pressure, which caused the bottle to explode. For these reasons, inactivation using bleach is not considered to be an acceptable procedure.

ref 1 : Lunn, G., and E. Sansone. 1987. Ethidium bromide: destruction and decontamination of solutions. Analytical Biochemistry 162:453-458.


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