UV Trans-Illuminator

July 22nd, 2014 by Acmas Leave a reply »

Ultraviolet (UV) Trans-illuminators are used to visualize fluorescent markers that are used in gel electrophoresis like agar gel electrophoresis for nucleic acids (DNA, RNA) and SDS-PAGE for proteins.

UV transilluminators are usually consist of a UV light source and associated electronics housed in a box with appropriate optical filters. For safety purpose it has a light transmitting cover with UV filter that transmits visible light to allow gels to be viewed. All UV trans-illuminator are major sources of UV radiations which can cause damage to skin and eyes of an individual. The use of UV trans-illuminator should be replaced whenever practicable by the use of blue light trans illuminator and appropriate dyes.

Risks from Radiation from UV trans-illuminator

These devices emit high level of UV radiations. UV radiation are mutagenic and cancerous, they can cause the mutation (UV radiations are responsible for the formation of dimers in DNA strands). Working unprotected for even a few minutes can cause injury, so it is required to use safety precautions while working with UV trans-illuminator. Effects of UV can occur within a short period (Photokeratitis and Erythema) or a long period after exposure (skin cancer).

  • Radiations from these UV trans-illuminators may have the potential effects on eyes (photokeratitis, photoconjunctivitis and cataracts) and
  • can cause skin erythema (sunburn like condition), elastosis ( photoaging and skin cancer).
  • Hands, arms, face and eyes are likely sites of injury.

Some individuals have greater than usual photosensitivity. It is possible to calculate acute threshold for acute effects and therefore set exposure limits, however it is not possible to do so for chronic effects, therefore there is no safe exposure level and exposure should be reduced as much as possible.

Safety Guidelines While Using the UV Trans-Illuminator

UV Trans-illuminator is the source of UV radiations which can be harmful for a personnel doing the experiment so it is required to consider the safety precautions.

  • Always avoid looking directly into the UV light. Only observe through the UV safety cover provided in the trans-illuminator if possible wear UV blocking spectacles during observation.
  • Do avoid unnecessary exposure to eyes or skin. There is no safe exposure level to avoid skin cancer.
  • While putting the gel in the UV trans-illuminator the personnel should wear the gloves as UV radiations are mutagenic.
  • All the skin areas that are exposed must be covered including the wrist area upto the end of the lab coat sleeves.
  • Appropriate shield (protective cover) should be used to prevent irradiation of the eyes and skin. An appropriate material for shield is Perspex.

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