You must understand biosafety cabinet maintenance, testing, and certification to keep the personnel in your laboratory safe at all times. Whether you are a project manager, facilities manager, or a research assistant, it’s important that you have at least a basic idea of how to use BSCs and how to learn more.
Use and Maintenance of Biosafety Cabinets
What exactly are BSCs? These cabinets are often considered to be fancy chemical fume hoods. However, these cabinets do much more than simply removing fumes away from personnel. BSCs establish a clean environment and protection, so employees working with biological hazards aren’t exposed to dangerous fumes, chemicals, biohazards, and other hazardous contaminants. Every BSC is assigned a specific level that determines what types of materials can be used inside the cabinet and how safe personnel will be when using the cabinet. Maintenance is guided by testing and certification.
The BSCs are tested when cabinets are installed or relocated and after repairs or significant maintenance. The bio-safety cabinet testing protocols are run to ensure compliance with the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and the American National Standards Institute, in addition to other organizations such as NSF International. There are several forms of testing:
- Measurement of inflow velocity
- Measurement of downflow velocity
- Testing of HEPA filter integrity
- Counting of non-viable particulates
- Study of airflow visualization
Other tests ensure that the cabinet hasn’t weakened or lost structural integrity through a variety of techniques.
Biosafety Cabinet Certification
After testing has been completed, the BSC is awarded the appropriate certification. The CDC has established three levels of certification. A Class III BSC, for example, is certified to handle microbiological agents with a biosafety level 4. This BSC offers maximum protection. Proper certification and clear labeling are crucial to ensuring the safety of the personnel who work with the cabinet and those who work in the facility.