Biological safety cabinets are necessary when working with biohazardous materials, or materials which may present aerosolized or vapor hazards. A biological safety cabinet (BSC) provides protection for biological samples, as well as for personnel and the work environment. They are used for a variety of applications in the life sciences as well as pharmaceutical, clinical, and industrial laboratories.
A BSC is not a replacement for sterile technique, but a useful tool to aid in following sterile practices while working. Extreme care must still be taken to ensure sterility and proper air flow at all times. Pharmaceutical grade refrigerators must also have correct air flow. This ensures that biological samples consistently stay at recommended temperatures.
Using a BSC requires highly specific procedures that must be followed meticulously. Even small deviations from correct operation, such as rapid arm movements, can cause airflow disruption and lead to possible contamination of the specimens.
Technicians must have a thorough understanding of these procedures before beginning work so as not to risk contamination. Make sure you are familiar with your specific cabinet model's instructions, as well as wearing the proper personal protection gear before handling the cabinet and work materials.
Biological safety cabinet testing must be conducted annually in order to maintain certification. Testing and certification must be performed by registered cleanroom certification professionals. Some tests, such as a HEPA filter leak scan, inflow velocity, and cabinet leak test are mandatory. Other tests, such as lighting intensity, electrical leakage and polarity, and noise level are optional.
Cabinets must be placed away from doors, windows, vents, and busy areas to reduce airflow disruptions. Cabinets must have proper clearances of twelve to fourteen inches on all sides and top.
A BSC must be certified annually, as well as any time it is installed, moved, or repaired. Only NSF-accredited technicians may perform repairs, adjustments, or decontamination. Decontamination will be performed using either vapor phase hydrogen peroxide or formaldehyde gas. A properly cleaned and serviced BSC is essential to maintain clean room certification.
Following established procedures, as well as conducting appropriate biological safety cabinet testing, are the best ways to stay in compliance with both BSC and clean room certification.