ABC of Safety in the Biological Sciences




Algae are a group of cryptogamous plants in which the body is unicellular or consists of a thallus. It includes the sea-weeds and many unicellular fresh water plants. Algae thrive in warm, stagnant water and sunlight

In the biological sciences laboratory algae can appear in any equipment that contains still water, especially if the water is also warm and receives light, e.g. water baths. Evaporative air conditioning systems can also harbour algae and the organism Legionella. If algae are allowed to grow in water in laboratory equipment contamination will occur to test material or equipment which has contact with the contaminated water. This contamination can cause errors to be made in diagnosis in the medical laboratory, e.g. contamination of tissue sections after the sections have been floated onto contaminated water prior to picking them up onto glass slides.

Regular, thorough cleaning of water containing equipment with fresh water replacement should be sufficient to discourage the growth of algae in such equipment.



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