Debbie Knight

The journey: clearing out an abandoned lab

In observation on February 15, 2012 at 9:00 am

Over the past month or so, I’ve been involved in cleaning out an abandoned lab. I haven’t done all the work myself — Erin, a medical technologist, was also tapped for the job.

Day 1: The first step was clearing out all the biological specimens — from freezers, fridges, and cabinets. Although many were probably not considered biohazardous, we treated them as such, disposing of them in specially designated biohazard boxes. These cardboard boxes are lined with a bright orange thick plastic bag. It took seven of these boxes to clear out all the biological specimens. This step took about four hours. The next two photos are from the first stage of clean up.

The lab after completing phase 1 of lab clean up.

These biohazard boxes are ready for disposal by our Environmental Health and Safety people.

Day 2:  The next step was carried out a few days later. This involved finding a place to stash all the freezer boxes. Also, during this stage, any unusable lab supplies were placed in the trash. Washed glassware was put away. An inventory of chemicals was sent to Environmental Health and Safety — this is required for them to pick up chemicals for redistribution and disposal. This step took another four hours.

After phase 2 of lab clean up.

Day 3: The next step was to get rid of any tissue samples that were stored in fixative (like formalin) and any tissue sections on microscope slides. We also disinfected all bench tops and lab equipment including fridges and freezers. By doing this, we removed any possible residual biohazards. It is now safe to move any equipment from this lab to another without fear of contaminating the movers or lab personnel. Yet another four hours.

Phase 3 of lab clean up: getting rid of tissue samples.

Day 4: The final stage was to have the chemicals removed from the lab by Environmental Health and Safety personnel. This turned out to be the task of one person. He had to make several trips from the lab to his truck. This step took about 30 minutes.

The lab still has equipment in it — this was done intentionally. The next department member to take this lab space may want the equipment. If we had been doing a complete lab clean out, we would have left only bare benches.

I’m glad it’s finally over. It’s not fun clearing out another researcher’s lab.

Environmental Health and Safety guy taking away the last of the chemicals

The lab is now ready for a new owner. It's not completely cleared out because the new person may want some or all of the equipment.

The last phase from another angle.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: