Transilluminators are a source of potentially hazardous ultraviolet (UV) radiation. As a prescribed electronic device under the Radiation Safety Act 1975, they must be registered with the Office of Safety and Health, and the Radiological Council.
A transilluminator uses an intense source of UV radiation to make visible the fluorescent marker used in electrophoresis gels. The gel is placed on the transilluminator window and is illuminated from below. Ultraviolet radiation is hazardous to both skin and eyes.
Exposure to UV radiation at the surface of a transilluminator can exceed the National Health and Medical Research Council maximum permissible occupational exposure levels for skin and eyes in less than one second.
A number of transilluminator models are in common use. They produce UV light with varying intensities and spectra. It should be assumed that all are a UV hazard. If there is any doubt, Safety and Health can provide the characteristics of each model.
Transilluminators may be fitted with a UV absorbing cover. If the unit is operated without the cover in place or if it has no cover, then all exposed skin and the eyes of the operator must be protected.
Protection is achieved by wearing:
The perspex shield supplied should be closed whilst the UV light is on.
If the work requires the shield to remain open:
The maximum permissible exposure per day for uncovered skin at the surface of the source is less than 0.3 seconds.