Biological Safety Cabinets

Biological Safety Cabinets (BSC) are designed to protect individuals from biological hazards while providing a clean work surface. To provide a clean environment inside the cabinet, a vertical laminar airflow pulls air from the bench surface down and is exhausted either out the top of the cabinet or back down into the bench area through a High Efficiency Particulate Air (HEPA) filter. Particulates in the air are removed by the HEPA filter. Chemical fumes are not removed through a HEPA filter in a BSC with the exception of a specific model of Class II type B2 BSC that is UL classified as a fume hood.   

When to use a BSC:

Processing biological materials should be done in a BSC when there is a potential of aerosols created by vortexing, centrifuging, sonication, aspirating with a syringe, etc., as well as all pathogens that can be airborne transmitted.  

 Safe operations of a BSC:

  • Never work with the ultraviolet sterilizer light on while working in the BSC.  It can cause damage to a user’s eyes and skin.
  • Turn on all blowers and lights when in working in the BSC.
  • Avoid disrupting the airflow in the BSC by working away from the inside edges of the vents and refrain from rapid movements in and out of the BSC. Avoid using a Bunsen burner inside the BSC.  Alternative methods include pre-sterilized inoculating loops or touch-plate microburners. 
  • Decontaminate all items inside the BSC, as well as the interior of the BSC with the appropriate disinfectant when done with work.

Annual BSC Certification, Repair and Moving Requirements: 

Annual BSC certification must be completed to provide the necessary protection to the operators and the environment around the BSC. Operations cannot be conducted in an expired certification BSC. Certification ensures that the BSC does not have disrupted airflow or filter leaks that could cause exposure of biohazardous materials to the user. The certification label must be on the BSC with the most recent inspection date. If a BSC is repaired or moved, it must be recertified. 

Purchasing or Obtaining a Biosafety Cabinet:

Before a new BSC is purchased for CSUSM laboratories, RM&S should be contacted about the specifications of the BSC. RM&S can assist in providing vendors that The BSC certification should be in accordance with NSF standard 49. The BSC type must be appropriate for the biological processes that will be performed in the cabinet. Installation of the BSC must allow access to the supply and exhaust filters for filter changing and testing. Any outlets inside the BSC should be ground fault circuit interrupter (GFCI) outlets.