The need for Plain English DIYbio Safety Guidelines

image from When we were setting up the wetspace over at The Sprouts, there was a lot of discussion about safety. We were all interested in safety, but Mac was clearly stressing that the future of DIYBio depends heavily on showing that DIYBio can be done safely.

At the set up we had three people, Kay (an active DIYBiologist), Manuel, and Charles, who have (recent) academic and corporate lab experience, and me with academic experience (if a bit hazy from years of inactivity). Together we (mostly them) were able to go over what was needed to make the wetspace safe for reagents, working, disposal, and so forth (especially for The Sprouts).

Highlighting these concerns, the iGEM competition was closed to non-main stream scientists, partly due to safety issues. And the DIYBio-NYC folks are inundated with media request, to see what they are up to, particularly to allay any community safety fears.

I've been doing some investigation and I can't really find a central place for "Plain English" Safety Guidelines that are relevant to DIYBiologists. I envision a wiki where links and info are collated and annotated, training videos, lists of where to get or how to make safety enclosures and equipment, links to downloadable material safety data sheets, lists of suppliers and agencies and safety companies (such as disposal), and so on. But the key thing is that it would be easily accessible and tailored for the DIYBiologist.

This is one aspect of ensuring safety among DIYBiologists, but there are a few more and I am still figuring out how to offer them.

I am not sure _where_ this wiki should be. A quick look at Open Wet ware shows that all the safety info is lab-specific or hidden behind firewalls (understandable, since it's about institutional rules and such).

So, my questions are:

1) Is this a good idea? (I know it is)
2) Where should this wiki be?
3) Who wants to be part of it? (I don't think it should be an open wiki, but curated by a few people. And, of course, since I mentioned it, I should be part of it.)


  1. is a logical choice, I think. As for members curating it, how about inviting people with real lab experiences from other diybio groups around the country?
    Maybe we should make a universal guideline for diybio spaces, like what people have already done with hackerspaces.

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