Biological Safety Cabinet
A Biological Safety Cabinet (BSC) is a type of protective barrier and engineering control that is used in laboratories as a primary means of containment developed for working safely with infectious microorganisms. A BSC helps prevent & minimize laboratory worker exposures to risks from infectious microorganisms, bio-aerosols and hazardous/toxic particulates.
BSCs are designed to provide personnel, environmental and product protection. Their function is to filter out airborne biological agents, aerosols, contaminants and particulates while circulating air through the unit. When properly used, BSC's, along with the use of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), and departmental operational procedures, minimize worker exposure to bio-hazardous materials in the workplace. BSC's are different from a Chemical Fume Hood which is an exhaust ventilation device that captures chemical emissions and ventilates them outside the building.
This module is intended to enable you to:
Protective barriers are engineered safety equipment, personal protective equipment (PPE), and even your department's safety guidelines, policies and procedures, that when used properly, lessen your chances of harmful exposure to hazardous substances. (More)
There are several types of protective barrier equipment that are available for use in laboratories.
Most of these devices have specialized types and functions that are designed to minimize risks to the user.
Devices are designed for these purposes:
**Caution: Before working with a hazardous or toxic substance, consult the MSDS to determine the type(s) protective barriers you will utilize for maximum protection.**
For more information regarding PPE, please see Eye and Face Protection, Body and Foot Protection, and Laboratory Gloves.
Biological safety cabinets are engineered to have two separate ventilation system types. The first type has a single, built-in filtration system that is not ducted to the outside, called Class I or Class II Type A2, or HEPA Filtered Enclosures. The second type is a combination built-in filtration and [separate] ventilation system known as a Class II, Type B2 cabinet.
Single filtration system types are:
Filtration and Ventilation devices filter contaminates within the device and then ventilate to the outside of the building through a separate ducted system.
Class I and HEPA Filter Enclosures (below) protect the user from agents that require Biosafety Level 1, 2 or 3 containment but no product protection. Class I enclosures include an ultraviolet light that may be used in conjunction with surface disinfection to ensure thorough decontamination. HEPA Filtered Enclosures, which do not include a UV light, protect the user from hazardous chemical powders, dust and allergens in diverse applications ranging from screening suspicious mail to weighing drug ingredients. These devices provide no product or work surface protection
Class II, Type A2 Biosafety Cabinets (left) are designed as a single filtration device to filter biological agents and other particulates from the air circulating inside the cabinet. When properly used, they provide personnel, product and environmental protection from hazardous particulates such as agents that require Biosafety Level 1, 2 or 3 containment. Other appropriate applications include work with antineoplastic drugs, genetic material, carcinogens, allergens and additional substances that generate hazardous airborne particulates. During operation, room air is drawn into the inlet grille at the work access opening and through a supply HEPA filter. These biohazard cabinets are designed to discharge HEPA-filtered exhaust air directly into the laboratory, or into an exhaust system through the optional Canopy Connection. When canopy-ducted, these biological safety cabinets may be used for applications involving minute quantities of volatile toxic chemicals and tracer amounts of radionuclides as an adjunct to microbiological research. (Labconco website)
Class II, Type B2 Biosafety Cabinets (left) are designed as a separately ducted device that captures and filters biological agents and other particulates from the air circulating inside the cabinet. When properly used, they provide protection from hazardous agents that require Biosafety Level 1, 2 or 3 containment. Other appropriate applications include work with antineoplastic drugs, genetic material, asbestos and additional substances that generate hazardous airborne particulates.are designed to be ducted to the outside. During operation, room air is drawn into the top of the cabinet and through a supply HEPA filter. This filtered air flows downward through the work area. Room air is also drawn into the inlet grille located at the work access opening. All of the contaminated air passes through the exhaust HEPA filter. A dedicated exhaust system and remote blower discharge 100% of the filtered exhaust air from the laboratory. Since none of the air is recirculated, these biohazard cabinets may be used for work with agents treated with volatile toxic chemicals and radionuclides. (Labconco website)
1. The Sash is a movable safety glass panel that covers the face area of a Biological Safety Cabinet. The BSC sash is vertical rising with an optimum work opening of 8-10 inches. Opening above that will cause an automatic audible and visible alarm which means lower the sash!
2. Alarms, sensors, controls, and gauges are included to provide laboratory personnel with a constant reading of cabinet performance. If the face velocity falls below an acceptable work range, the sensors will trigger an alarm to notify personnel. These devices usually go into alarm mode either because the sash has been raised above the optimum working height of 8"-10" or something is malfunctioning on the BSC. When an alarm sounds, work must stop and no further work should be performed, close the sash to a lower height or completely, until the BSC corrects itself. If the alarm situation does not remedy itself, contact KU EHS.
3. HEPA Filter. During operation, room air is drawn into the front of the cabinet, forced through a supply HEPA filter and then air flows downward through the work area. Air to be exhausted drawn from the back grills and forced out/exhausted through a HEPA filter prior to discharge into the room.
4. Inlet Grille. While operating, air is pulled into the inlet grille at the work access opening and through a supply HEPA filter.
The health and safety of laboratory personnel and building occupants must be the primary goal of principal investigators and/or laboratory supervisors. Properly functioning Biological Safety Cabinets and other ventilated and/or filtered protective barriers help achieve this goal with respect to harmful airborne substances. It is important to remember that a biosafety cabinet is not a storage area and is not a fume hood.. Keeping unnecessary equipment, containers, and materials in the BSC may cause the cabinet to operate below minimum designed efficiency standards. Never store hazardous chemicals in a BSC.
**Prevent Filter Damage! Avoid using materials such as volatile or corrosive chemicals, including gas burners, which will damage the filters.**
Some biological safety cabinets are designed and installed for chemical use, but most biological safety cabinets on campus are not. Check with EHS if you are unsure.
As a Laboratory Supervisor, you will be tasked not only with understanding your laboratory safety program, and processes of your workplace, but you will also be responsible for ensuring all of your protective barrier devices operate properly. Always monitor your biological safety cabinet's performance to protect you and your co-workers. As Laboratory Staff, you will have the most control of how safe your work environment will be for you and your peers. It is important to always check your department's protective barrier device operational procedures and safety plan before starting any process. Understand the hazards involved and use the appropriate level of PPE. If you have any questions or are unsure of any part of the process, seek guidance from your supervisor. While working, pay close attention to your protective barriers to ensure correct operation. If something seems wrong, report it to your supervisor right away. Prudent practice should always be maintained while on the job.
Fume hoods and Enclosures
KU EHS Website
As you have learned, using protective barriers properly can reduce your risks of exposures to hazardous or toxic substances. Now that you have an understanding of different types of biological safety cabinets and their uses, you must complete a quiz (with a score of 100%) and print out a certificate of completion for this module to receive credit. Good luck!
You have completed the Biological Safety Cabinet module. You should meet with your supervisor to go over information specific to your unit, your job, and the hazardous materials and/or processes in which your job will require. Using the skills that you have learned in this module, you should be able to identify and utilize the features of different types of cabinets that are in your workplace. If you have any questions or concerns please contact the KU-EHS Department.
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