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Are There Mermades in Your Labs?

No, not the kind of mermaids that swim in the ocean, the kind of mermades that synthesize oligonucleotides. It is becoming more and more common to come across these pieces of equipment that are designed to synthesize DNA and RNA oligonucleotides, and there are several EHS concerns that need to be addressed when beginning work with mermades.

Mermades will typically not fit within a chemical fume hood, but they do typically require the use of chemicals that should be worked with inside of a chemical fume hood. It is fairly common to see acetonitrile and methylene chloride being utilized with mermades, so exposure levels should be evaluated. Remember that methylene chloride has a low action limit of 12.5 ppm.

There are several considerations for the hazardous waste that is generated as a result of this process. First, the waste containers that are necessary for operation need to be reused rather than disposed of after each use, which makes pouring the waste into another container or drum necessary. The waste containers are under pressure, which presents exposure hazards when removing them from the mermade.

If you have mermades in your labs or you find out that mermades will be arriving in your labs, a job safety analysis would be a great idea! And remember to address appropriate personal protective equipment as part of the job safety analysis.

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