Scientific researchers are putting themselves in harm's way using ethidium bromide and technology like UV transilluminators. LED and laser diode transilluminators used together with fluorescent nucleic acid gel stains can be used as a safe alternative.
In the qualitative and quantitative analysis of DNA (and RNA), nucleic acid gel stains are used to visualize DNA, determine the size of DNA fragments, separate DNA fragments from each other and quantify DNA. Fluorescent nucleic acid gel stains are non-toxic & environmentally friendly alternatives to ethidium bromide. These gel stains can be used for gel purification, restriction digest, cloning, and sequencing. They are safe to handle and easy to dispose of (either down the drain or in the regular trash). Not only are they safe, but these dyes are also sensitive, stable and simple to use.
UV transilluminators can cause UV-induced DNA damage and must be used with protective eyewear. As well as being unsafe for skin and eyes, UV transilluminator gel documentation systems make them more costly. LED and laser diode transilluminators are a safer alternative to UV transilluminators. They allow bright and clear visualization of a broad range of “safe” dyes and stains, at a reasonable cost.
Dr Saloni Pasta, from Biotium, explores safer dyes and non-UV imaging solutions, in more detail, in her presentation Nucleic Acid Gel Stains.