Ethidium Bromide-Environmental Health & Safety - Carnegie Mellon University

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Ethidium Bromide

Many Biological Science labs use ethidium bromide, a powerful mutagen.  Because of this health hazard, sewer disposal is not permitted for solutions greater than 0.01 mg/L.  These stronger solutions should be turned into EH&S via the hazardous waste disposal program.

As you all learned in Hazardous Waste training, though, it is most desirable environmentally to substitute a less hazardous product for a more hazardous one.  In the case of ethidium bromide, there is a new product made by Invitrogen, called SYBR Safe.  It is a proprietary compound that some researchers have found works well in place of ethidium bromide, and is far less hazardous (and does NOT have to be disposed of as hazardous waste.)  Check out Invitrogen on the web for further information and to see if it will suit your use.  (BTW, I own no stock in this company and make no monetary gain, or any other gain for that matter, from Invitrogen.) 

I reported on this material last year.  If anyone on campus has used it, please let me know how it worked for you!

By: Mark Banister,, 412-268-1493