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While doing research, we also kept in mind the risks of our project and the different applications one could think of. Of course vanillin is a harmless product, but if one was to use our regulatory system for something more hazardous, a real risk could occur. Fortunately, the devices we worked on this summer did not impose a direct risk for the students.

Of course biotechnological lab work always implicates a risk at some extend. The bacteria we used can always prove to be opportunistic and not completely harmless. Even certain strains of E. coli can induce gastrointestinal infections when the host has a weak immune system. In our lab, the CMPG lab of K.U.Leuven, researchers are also working with Salmonella which is known to illicit abdominal pain. When working with E. coli we were of course always careful to work in a sterile environment, making sure the risk of an infection was very small.

All students were consistent in wearing their lab coats, gloves were always worn when working with carcinogens or toxic products. Some of the students attended a seminar on Lab-safety, to learn how to minimize the risks of working in a scientific lab.

Not only the health of the researchers is important, also the environment should not feel an impact. We were careful to always put the biological waste in a bio hazardous-bin, so waste-management could properly dispose of our biological products.