Biological Safety

It is important to remember that all tissue and bodily fluids are a potential source of infection. Appropriate precautions to minimize exposure should always be used when working with biological agents. There are four levels of control for handling biohazardous materials. The level of biosecurity is determined by the characteristics of the agent under study, including severity of disease, mode of transmission, relative risk of exposure and effectiveness of treatment methods or immunization. These levels are developed for individuals with normal immune systems. Biological hazards can also come from the environment (poisonous plants, mosquitoes, or pluff mud).

Prudent practices for preventing biological infections are listed below.

  • Wear personal protective equipment (eye protection, gloves, boots, waders, and lab coat).
  • Wash hands after handling infectious materials.
  • Disinfect work areas and equipment after use.
  • Take special care when working with sharps (needles, Pasteur pipets, scalpels, capillary tubes).
  • Never eat, drink, smoke, handle contact lenses, apply cosmetics, or take medicine in a lab.
  • Minimize splash (needle spray) and aerosols (centrifuge) with prudent practices.
  • Decontaminate and dispose of biological wastes properly.
  • Use mechanical pipeting devices (no mouth pipeting).

Additional Resources