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Decreasing Cross Contamination in Your Lab

Reducing Cross Contamination in Your Lab


Cross Contamination

Cross Contamination – noun – “inadvertent switch of micro organism or different contaminants from one floor, substance, and so on., to a different particularly due to unsanitary dealing with procedures. – (Mariam Webster, 2021). Cross contamination shouldn’t be a brand new idea within the medical and meals lab industries; many amenities have important design features in addition to SOPs to ship the least quantity of contaminants into the lab setting. For hashish labs, nevertheless, typically the exponential development results in a circumstance the place the lab merely isn’t giant sufficient for the variety of samples processed and variety of analytical devices and personnel wanted to course of them. Cross contamination for hashish labs can imply delayed outcomes, heightened occurrences of false positives, and in the end misplaced clients – why would you pay for evaluation of your clear product in a grimy facility? The next steps can prevent the complications related to cross contamination:

Wash (and dry) your arms correctly

Flash again to early pandemic instances when the Tik Tok “Ghen Co Vy” hand washing music was the hotness – we had little to no concept that the illness could be fueled principally by aerosol transmission, however the premise is identical, good hand hygiene is nice to cut back cross contamination. Palms are sometimes the supply of micro organism, each resident (right here for the lengthy haul; connected to your arms) and transient (simple to take away; simply passing by way of), as they arrive into contact with surfaces from the toilet to the pipettor every day (Robinson et al, 2016). Glove use coupled with ample hand washing are good practices to cut back cross contamination from personnel to a product pattern. Moreover, the kind of hand drying method can cut back the microbial load on the toilet flooring and, subsequently tracked into the lab. A 2013 research demonstrated virtually double the contamination from air blade know-how versus utilizing a paper towel to dry your arms (Margas et al, 2013).

Design Your Lab for Separation

Microbes are migratory. Actually, E. coli can journey at speeds as much as 15 physique lengths per second. In comparison with the quickest Olympians operating the 4X100m relay, with a mean velocity of 35 ft per second or 6 physique lengths, this bacterium is a gold medal winner, however we don’t need that within the lab setting (Milo and Phillips, 2021). New lab design retains this concept of bacterial journey in thoughts, however for these labs with no new construct, steps might be made to stop contamination:

  • Attempt to hold site visitors movement transferring in a single path. Retracing steps can result in contamination of a earlier work station
  • Use separate tools (e.g. cupboards, pipettes) for every course of/step
  • Separate pre- and post-pcr areas
  • Bodily separation – use completely different rooms, add partitions, partitions, and so on.

Set up, Prepare and Adhere to SOPs

Design SOPs that embody everything- from hygiene to check procedures and sanitation.

Excessive turnover for personnel in labs causes myriad points. It doesn’t take lengthy for a lab that’s buttoned up with cohesive workflows to develop into a willy-nilly hodgepodge of poor lab practices. A scarcity of codified Customary Working Procedures (SOPs) can result in a lab rife with contaminants and no clear technique to troubleshoot the difficulty. Labs ought to design strict SOPs that embody all the things from hand hygiene to check procedures and sanitation. Written SOPs, in keeping with the WHO, must be obtainable in any respect work stations of their most up-to-date model so as to cut back biased outcomes from testing (WHO, 2009). These SOPs must be relayed to every new worker and coaching on up to date SOPs must be performed on an ongoing foundation. In line with Sutton, 2010, laboratory SOPs might be damaged down into the next classes:

  • High quality necessities
  • Media
  • Cultures
  • Gear
  • Coaching
  • Pattern dealing with
  • Lab operations
  • Testing methodology
  • Knowledge dealing with/reporting/archiving
  • Investigations

Set up Controls and Monitor Outcomes

Scanning electron micrograph shows a colony of Salmonella typhimurium bacteria. Photo courtesy of CDC, Janice Haney Carr
Scanning electron micrograph exhibits a colony of Salmonella typhimurium micro organism. Picture courtesy of CDC, Janice Haney Carr

It could be tough for labs to maintain tabs on positivity and fail charges, however these are necessary features of a QC routine. For microbiological evaluation, labs ought to use an inside constructive management to validate that 1) the strategy is working correctly and a pair of) positives are a results of goal analytes discovered within the goal matrix, not an inside lab contamination pressure. Constructive controls might be an organism of alternative, comparable to Salmonella Tranoroa, and might be tagged with a marker, comparable to Inexperienced Fluorescent Protein so as to differentiate the management pressure. These controls will permit a lab tech to discriminate between a naturally contaminated specimen vs. a constructive because of cross-contamination.

Labs ought to, along with having good QC practices, hold observe of fail charges and positivity charges. This may be carried out as whole lab outcomes by evaluation, but additionally might be damaged down into clients. As an example, a lab fail fee for pesticides averages 4% for dried flower samples. If, throughout a given interval of assessment, this fee jumps previous 6% or falls beneath 2%, their could also be a difficulty with instrumentation, personnel or the product itself. As soon as contamination is dominated out, labs can then current proof of spikes in fail charges to growers who can then remediate in their very own amenities. These efforts in live performance will inherently drive down fail charges, enhance lab capability and effectivity, and lead to value financial savings for all events related.

Steady Enchancment is the Key

Hashish testing labs are, in comparison with their meals and medical counterparts, comparatively new. The shortage of constant state and federal regulation coupled with unfathomable development annually, means many labs have been within the “build the plane as you fly” mode. Because the lab surroundings matures, easy QC, SOP and hygiene modifications could make an incremental variations and drive enhancements for labs in addition to growers and producers they help. Lab administration can, and will, take steps to cut back cross contamination, enhance effectivity and decrease prices; Step one is at all times the toughest, however steady enchancment can not start till it has been taken.


Margas, E, Maguire, E, Berland, C. R, Welander, F, & Holah, J. T. (2013). Evaluation of the environmental microbiological cross contamination following hand drying with paper hand towels or an air blade dryer. Journal of Utilized Microbiology, 115(2), 572-582.

Mariam Webster (2021. Cross contamination. Retrieved from

Milo, M., and Phillips, R. (2021). How briskly do cells transfer? Cell biology by the numbers. Retrieved from

Robinson, Andrew L, Lee, Hyun Jung, Kwon, Junehee, Todd, Ewen, Perez Rodriguez, Fernando, & Ryu, Dojin. (2016). Ample Hand Washing and Glove Use Are Crucial To Cut back Cross-Contamination from Palms with Excessive Bacterial Masses. Journal of Meals Safety, 79(2), 304–308.

Sutton, Scott. (2010). The significance of a powerful SOP system within the QC microbiology lab. Journal of GXP Compliance, 14(2), 44.

World Well being Group. (2009). Good Laboratory Apply Handbook. Retrieved from




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