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Ethidium Bromide SOP
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Ethidium Bromide

Ethidium Bromide (EtBr) wastes are commonly collected from ARS laboratories. Please dispose of this waste according to your state or local regulations. While most states treat this as non-hazardous waste, it is prudent that each laboratory evaluate all components of the EtBr waste stream and make a waste determination. In general the mutagenic properties of this waste stream may present a hazard if disposed down the drain or in regular trash. Please contact your ASHM, servicing CEPS, or LRPO for additional assistance. As always, your location is encouraged to edit this SOP to meet specific laboratory requirements.


Use a soap and water mixture, or detergent solution to clean or decontaminate laboratory work surfaces.

Use a UV light to survey work surfaces in the laboratory.


Solutions containing EtBr should be treated (many laboratories already do this) or it should be collected for disposal.

Test tubes, golves, paper trash:

If clearly contaminated with EtBr, this trash should be disposed of as hazardous waste. There are some locations that can dispose of this trash into their "burnable waste stream" because they specifically have access to a landlord incinerator that meets all requirements for incineration.

If the paper trash waste is not clearly contaminated with EtBr, such as some low concentration of gels, please confirm with your Location Radiation Protection Officer (LRPO) before trash disposal.

In all other cases:

1. Separate liquids from solids.

2. Liquids should be emptied into poly containers with screw tops (i.e. Nalgene jars are available from Lab Safety).

3. Arrange for disposal through LRPO and/or CEPS

Test tubes/glass/objects classified as RMW or sharps - always place in approved sharps container to prevent injury.

All Other Solids:

Label as "Ethidium Bromide Contaminated Debris"

Double bag in plastic bags. Place plastic bags in secondary containers for leak control

Gels - Waste

If you collect your waste gels, it is recommended that you use a poly jar of no more than one gallon size and label appropriately. (Name, location, RL, waste type, etc.)

Treatment of EtBr Waste

EtBr wastes can be treated in order to render them non-hazardous and suitable for disposal down the drain. We recommend the following procedure for treatment of aqueous wastes containing EtBr:

1. Carry out the following steps in a fume hood.

2. For each 10 mg EtBr per 100 ml of solution, add 100 ml household bleach. (Bleach deteriorates over time upon exposure to air. If in doubt about the quality, use an excess and stir overnight.)

3. Stir at room temperature for 4 hours.

4. Rinse the destroyed EtBr solution down the sanitary sewer with 10 parts excess water.

Supelco provides a product that will filter EtBr waste to remove it from solution. However, the resin used to filter the waste must be disposed as hazardous waste. For product information, call Supelco at 800-247-6628. Other companies specializing in separation technologies may also provide similar products.