Lab Syringe vs. Human-Use Syringe: What’s the Difference?

Lab Syringe vs. Human-Use Syringe: What’s the Difference?

2-Part Luer Slip Human Use Syringe

Whether you work in a science lab, medical setting, or somewhere in between, syringes are an essential tool. However, there are so many different types to choose from, it’s easy to become overwhelmed when trying to find the best fit for your needs.

Two key types of syringes are those made for the lab versus those intended for human use. Understanding the differences can help you know what to look for and avoid potentially dangerous or costly mistakes.

FDA Approval of Human Health Products

Perhaps the biggest difference between lab syringes and human-use syringes is their approval process. Syringes made for humans must be approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to ensure their safety and effectiveness.

As a result, lab syringes must only be used in the lab. They cannot be used when treating human patients. Using a lab syringe that’s not approved for humans can lead to health complications and legal liability.

However, there’s generally no issue when the case is reversed. While using human syringes in the lab is typically ok, it’s not necessarily the best choice. Here’s what else you should know about the differences between these two classes of syringes.

Lab Syringes

Lab syringes have various uses, such as chromatography, mixing, and filtration. In general, when shopping for lab syringes, you want to account for factors like purity, accuracy, quality, performance, and price. Beneficial features, such as a safety stop and leakproof design can help make your job easier. They also help avoid common mistakes, such as spills and inaccurate measurements that compromise the integrity of your results.

In addition, it’s essential to shop for products that are compatible with other tools you use in the lab. Consider the material and construction of your syringe. Lab syringes are typically made of inert materials such as glass or certain plastics to minimize chemical interactions with the substances being measured or transferred. High-quality construction ensures durability and accuracy.

Laboratory syringes can be found in both sterile and bulk unsterile options. Many laboratory applications do not require sterility, so bulk options allow for easy access to syringes without needing to spend time and effort opening individual blister packages. Non-sterile syringes are often more cost efficient options.

Because laboratory syringes do not require the additional FDA clearance, the disposable lab syringes tend to be available at a lower price point than their human-use counterparts. This could be beneficial for laboratories looking to save on expense costs.

Getting accurate measurements is crucial in the lab setting. Lab syringes are carefully calibrated to deliver precise volumes of liquids, often in microliter or milliliter increments.

For instance, Air-Tite Luer Lock syringes come in a wide range of sizes from low dead space 1 mL to 60 mL (and several options in between). Be sure to select the appropriate volume capacity for your testing.

Air-Tite Luer Lock Lab Syringe

Finally, safety is always a priority when working in the lab. Laboratory environments often involve hazardous substances. Lab syringes may feature additional safety measures such as Luer lock systems to secure needles and prevent leaks or spills. These features can help you avoid messy spills that may pose a danger, waste precious testing material, and require tedious cleanup.

Human-Use Syringes

Syringes for humans may be used to administer medications like insulin, anesthetics, and vaccines. They’re also required for cosmetic procedures involving botulism toxin and dermal fillers. As with lab syringes, accuracy, compatibility, quality, and price are key considerations for human-use syringes. You’ll also need to ensure FDA registration and seek syringes with a good reputation and history of quality to ensure your patient’s trust and satisfaction.

Human-use syringes are typically made of medical-grade plastics, such as Air-Tite’s 2-part Luer slip syringes crafted from the hydrocarbons polypropylene and polyethylene. These plastics are lighter than water but extremely resilient and able to withstand exposure to most common chemicals for up to 24 hours.[1]

Patient safety is crucial in healthcare settings. Unlike the lab where you’re only giving thought to the safety of the person using the syringe, human-use syringes need to protect both the injector and the patient. Because of this, human-use syringes must be sterile. They feature the same safety measures found in lab syringes, and may even incorporate additional safety mechanisms such as needle guards or retractable needles (on syringe with needle options) to prevent accidental needle sticks and minimize the risk of infection transmission.

Failure to consider the right configuration is one of the most common potential mistakes with human-use syringes, such as a 2-part versus a 3-part syringe. The 2-part syringe contains a barrel and a piston, while the 3-part syringe has a barrel, piston, and a rubber gasket.

When manufacturing 3-part syringes, medical-grade silicone oil is sprayed into the syringe barrel to avoid friction from the rubber gasket and seal the barrel and plunger. Natural rubber plunger tips (gaskets) are often made with latex and increase the risk of contamination. Synthetic gaskets can help reduce this risk.

Nonetheless, increasing concern about the use of silicone oil and latex can be avoided altogether by choosing 2-part syringes, traditionally more popular in Europe. For example, no rubber or silicone oil is required to produce the 2-part HSW Norm-Ject all plastic syringes.

Highly sensitive procedures, such as in-vitro fertilization, embryo transfers, and amniocentesis should never involve latex or silicone oil. Furthermore, patients with sensitivity to latex are better suited for a rubber-free 2-part syringe.[1]

Additionally, improper disposal and reuse pose significant risks, like needlestick injuries and disease transmission. Therefore, healthcare providers must adhere to stringent safety protocols and dispose of used syringes properly.

Lab Syringe vs. Human-Use Syringe: Summary of Key Differences

Lab syringes and syringes for human use fundamentally share most of their characteristics, from their dosing measurement markers to their safety features. However, they do have a few distinct differences.

Aside from the required FDA approval for human-use products, the priorities of each type of syringe are slightly different. Lab syringes must place accuracy and precision as a top priority to ensure the validity of scientific testing. Precision is also essential in human-use syringes, but perhaps the most significant design consideration is the syringe’s accessibility, ease of handling, and ability to provide a comfortable experience for the patient.

The two syringes may also be constructed using different materials. Lab syringes are often made of inert materials to minimize chemical interactions, whereas human-use syringes are produced with medical-grade plastics for biocompatibility and safety. Needle guards and retractable needles can help ensure safety in a medical setting but may not be as necessary for syringes in the lab.

Human-use syringes must be sterile, where laboratory syringes may or may not be sterilized.

Prices often differ between Human-use and laboratory syringes. Human-use disposable plastic syringes are typically more expensive than comparable lab syringes. However, glass laboratory syringes will most often be more costly than human-use syringes because of the manufacturing materials.

Although it may be difficult to decipher whether a syringe is for human use or not by simply looking at the syringe itself, the packaging of the syringe should always reflect the intended use of the syringe. At Air-Tite, we also clearly note on each syringe product page whether it is for human use or not.

How This Applies to Your Practice

Understanding the distinctions between human use and lab syringes is crucial for selecting the appropriate syringe for a specific task.

Whether conducting experiments in a laboratory or administering medications in a healthcare setting, choosing the appropriate syringe ensures accuracy, safety, and optimal outcomes. By examining factors such as material composition, safety features, and intended applications, practitioners can effectively leverage these indispensable tools while minimizing risks and errors.

Fortunately, Air Tite has a great selection of lab products and human health products to suit your business needs. With so many important factors to consider, it helps to have an experienced and knowledgeable supplier on your side. Air-Tite can help answer questions while helping you find the best products on the market. Click below to get started.