Biological Safety

Many labs on-campus work with cell cultures, DNA, RNA, animals, and needles. These research materials can contain potentially infectious substances.

Always decontaminate equipment after using biohazardous material. Decontamination includes utilizing a solution of warm soap and water, then a solution of 1:10 household bleach (5.25 percent sodium hypochlorite) or Wescodyne. Dispose of any loose or used sharps in the proper sharps container.  Identify any refrigerator, freezer, incubator, or centrifuge used with biological material with a Biohazard Sticker. 

Common findings relevant to biological safety include:

Unprotected sharps are in the laboratory: 

Unprotected sharps in the laboratory increase the risk of puncture wounds and exposure to bloodborne pathogens. When not in use, razor blades and other sharps must be stored in a protective device or disposed of in a disposable sharps container. Manual recapping of needles is prohibited. 

Biohazard warning stickers not prominent: 

Research materials and/or sterile equipment could become contaminated with infectious agents. All equipment and materials used to store or process potentially infectious agents must be labeled with a biohazard sticker.

Clean bench: Improper use/infectious agent work in a clean air bench: 

Clean air benches provide a sterile material work environment by blowing fresh air across the work surface towards the user. Clean air benches do not provide protection to workers. Working with infectious material could result in an exposure. Clean air benches are not biological safety cabinets. These benches should never be used when handling cell culture materials or drug formulations or when manipulating potentially infectious materials. These devices only provide product protection and should not be used in research, biomedical, or veterinary laboratories at the University. For more information, contact the Biosafety Officer at EHS by calling 410-706-7845

Vacuum line filter missing or clogged/unprotected vacuum lines: 

Unprotected vacuum lines could result in the exposure of infectious agents to maintenance personal who service HVAC equipment in the building. Building and laboratory vacuum systems must be protected during vacuum filtration or aspiration procedures. High-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) disposable cartridge filters must be used to prevent fluid and aerosol contamination of laboratory vacuum lines, and vacuum pumps. HEPA disposable cartridge filters are available from various scientific supply vendors.