Over the past month or so, I’ve been involved in cleaning out an abandoned lab. I haven’t done all the work myself — Erin, a medical technologist, was also tapped for the job.
Day 1: The first step was clearing out all the biological specimens — from freezers, fridges, and cabinets. Although many were probably not considered biohazardous, we treated them as such, disposing of them in specially designated biohazard boxes. These cardboard boxes are lined with a bright orange thick plastic bag. It took seven of these boxes to clear out all the biological specimens. This step took about four hours. The next two photos are from the first stage of clean up.
Day 2: The next step was carried out a few days later. This involved finding a place to stash all the freezer boxes. Also, during this stage, any unusable lab supplies were placed in the trash. Washed glassware was put away. An inventory of chemicals was sent to Environmental Health and Safety — this is required for them to pick up chemicals for redistribution and disposal. This step took another four hours.
Day 3: The next step was to get rid of any tissue samples that were stored in fixative (like formalin) and any tissue sections on microscope slides. We also disinfected all bench tops and lab equipment including fridges and freezers. By doing this, we removed any possible residual biohazards. It is now safe to move any equipment from this lab to another without fear of contaminating the movers or lab personnel. Yet another four hours.
Day 4: The final stage was to have the chemicals removed from the lab by Environmental Health and Safety personnel. This turned out to be the task of one person. He had to make several trips from the lab to his truck. This step took about 30 minutes.
The lab still has equipment in it — this was done intentionally. The next department member to take this lab space may want the equipment. If we had been doing a complete lab clean out, we would have left only bare benches.
I’m glad it’s finally over. It’s not fun clearing out another researcher’s lab.