"Bioactive contaminants leach from disposable laboratory plasticware" by G. Reid McDonald and colleagues. From the abstract we get the money quote:
We demonstrate that these manufacturing agents leach from laboratory plasticware into a standard aqueous buffer, dimethyl sulfoxide, and methanol and can have profound effects on proteins and thus on results from bioassays of protein function.Now, I honestly haven't gone and read the entire short paper, but it immediately brought to mind an example of something similar known for some time in the ion channel field:
"A light stabilizer (Tinuvin 770) that elutes from polypropylene plastic tubes is a potent L-type Ca(2+)-channel blocker" by Glossmann and colleagues. With wonderfull Teutonic thoroughness these folks found a component in polypropylene tubes that can leach out and block calcium channels. Having done my thesis with a guy who knows a little about calcium channels, this was a finding that was well known in the lab. Inevitably a new postdoc or student would order a case of polypropylene tubes that would end up donated to some molecular biologists posthaste. Polypropylene: good for centrifuging, autoclaving, and holding phenol solutions. Not so good for making your recording solutions. Instead we used polystyrene.
But I get the sense it isn't something appreciated that widely in the field. So, this is my attempt to serve you all, increasing awareness of the pernicious effects of these components on your recordings. A modest contribution, to be sure.
And if you're having trouble making people remember it in your labs, here's something to chant while marching through the hallways. It's already trite and overused, so why not?
"What do we want?"
"When do we want it?"