Cross-contamination can have substantial negative effects on laboratories. In addition to rendering samples useless and wasting money, cross-contamination can also skew experiment results, which can have disastrous consequences. As such, it’s important to make eliminating cross-contamination as much as possible a top priority in your laboratory. To do so, follow these helpful tips on how to reduce cross-contamination in a lab.
Practice regular lab maintenance
Laboratory maintenance is of utmost importance for running a safe, effective, and productive lab. In addition to reducing downtime and enhancing accuracy of experiments, basic lab maintenance practices can also go a long way in reducing cross-contamination. Examples of regular lab maintenance you should conduct in your facility to reduce the potential for cross-contamination include keeping an orderly workroom by effectively labeling and organizing samples as well as sterilizing counters and equipment after use.
Practice safe sample transportation methods
When samples are being transported, they’re particularly vulnerable to becoming contaminated by foreign substances. As such, you should take extra caution to minimize the potential of contamination. Such measures may include using a secondary container with a secure lid and putting on a new pair of gloves upon delivering the sample to its intended destination.
Change gloves habitually
Disposable gloves are valuable tools for preventing sample contamination. However, they’re only effective if proper practices are followed. Once disposable gloves have been used, they cannot be worn again without greatly increasing the risk of contaminating other surfaces or samples. Instead, they should be promptly disposed of in a biohazard waste container or Stericycle box—not a standard trash can. Generally, laboratory workers should change their disposable gloves every time they switch between different tasks.
Automate processes when possible
Most laboratory contamination occurs as a result of human error, meaning it’s entirely preventable. As such, eliminating the potential for human error can greatly reduce cross-contamination in a lab. Through automation, samples can be handled and processes can be carried out with a negligible risk of contamination. Completely eliminating human error in a laboratory is virtually impossible, but automating certain processes can help.