Biosafety News

  • 11/2022 - Aerosols and Biohazards

    Almost all procedures in the lab can create aerosols.  Solid or liquid aerosol particles are suspended in air by breaking surface tension or imparting energy to a substance. Heavier, larger particles fall out of the air quickly and create a risk of surface contamination increasing the direct contact of mucous membranes and open skin via self-inoculation by touching these surfaces.  Smaller aerosols are higher risk as they can remain suspended in air currents which move them to new locations away from where they were originally generated.  Close to 80% of lab acquired infections have an unknown route of exposure pointing to smaller aerosols.

    Procedures that Create Aerosols

    Centrifugation

    Dissemination of aerosols through high-speed revolutions due to open tubes, tubes that crack, snap-cap tubes not sealed, expired tubes, overfilled tubes, and no secondary containment. 

    Containment with safety buckets and safety rotors are required for biohazardous material processing.  Ensure appropriate balancing of the centrifuge. Always check the vessels prior to centrifuging:  do not overfill, ensure they are not expired, and the integrity. Waiting at least 1-5 minutes after the centrifuge stops prior to opening is highly recommended and with higher risk materials it is required.

    Cell Sorting

    Cell sorters use high pressure to separate cells into a single stream and further separate specially labelled cells.  In the event the instrument becomes clogged, or a deflection occurs, this can cause a significant aerosol cloud to erupt from the instrument.

    Companies are working to help confine aerosols within the sorter when in use, however some may require containment in a biosafety cabinet. 

    Documentation of procedures for sorting BSL-2 materials is required to use the flow cytometry core at MSU.

    Spills

    Dropped flasks of biohazard material create aerosols of different sizes and require evacuation of the laboratory if it occurs outside of the biosafety cabinet. After aerosols are given appropriate time to settle, EHS trained personnel can assess the situation and perform the clean up procedure. Contact EHS to inform them of the spill and clean up procedure. If the spill is too large for the kit, contact EHS immediately for assistance.

    Vortexing, Blending, Homogenizing

    Energy directed at the material through these means, presents a significant increase in aerosol creation risk.  It is recommended that all three of these procedures be done within a biosafety cabinet when biohazardous materials are used. Contact EHS Biosafety Team for information on specialty cabinets or other information.

  • 10/2022 - October is Biosafety & Biosecurity Month

    October is the American Biological Safety Association (ABSA) International’s Biosafety & Biosecurity month putting a spotlight on research and teaching institutions as an excellent way to foster a culture of biosafety and biosecurity. The Biosafety and Biosecurity Month began as a “National Biosafety Stewardship Month,” sponsored by the National Institutes of Health Office of Science Policy as an initiative to promote stewardship of the life sciences and biosafety awareness. Launched in 2013, this initiative was created to promote awareness of biosafety, biosecurity, and biorisk management as a profession and to help those who work with or around biohazards understand how biosafety precautions work to protect them, their colleagues, and the environment from biohazard risks. In 2017, the torch was passed from the NIH OSP to ABSA International to continue the spotlight month.

    The 2022 Biosafety and Biosecurity Month will not have a theme, but will rather go back to the core components of ethical research, transparency, training, engagement, and stewardship of biosafety and biosecurity. Training is a federal and state requirement and something we see varying levels of compliance. As good stewards, please complete your required training (biosafety, chemical safety, radiation safety, hazardous waste, etc).

    At Michigan State University, the Office of Environmental Health & Safety oversees the efforts to protect occupational health and the environment. We assist faculty, staff, and others in maintaining a safe and compliant learning and workplace. We will focus on EHS Training and Site Specific Training and the need to participate in and maintain an up-to-date training status as your tenure continues at the University and all satellite locations. EHS conducts online and in-person training to ensure MSU personnel follow safe work practices and to ensure compliance with local, state and federal requirements in lab and occupational safety and environmental health. Many biosafety/biosecurity training specialty courses are offered including biosafety (Risk group 1-3), bloodborne, autoclave, medical waste, fit testing, biological substance shipping, and site-specific training. The latest update is site-specific training, which traditionally has been a paper form, can now be completed electronically and uploaded to Ability LMS.

    Biosafety & Biosecurity Month October 2022 Flyer