Using a Biosafety Cabinet the Right Way

Written by ATSC230@545404 on . Posted in WordPress

A biosafety cabinet, also called a biological safety cabinet (BSC) or microbiological safety cabinet, is an enclosed, ventilated laboratory workspace for safely working with materials that have been contaminated, or potentially contaminated, with pathogens that involve a defined biosafety level. To assure you use a BSC in the right way, here are some things to keep in mind.


Building a new laboratory or renovating an existing one can be challenging.  It's a complex task, so good planning is essential. Critical decisions are required at every stage. You have to not only think about your research requirements for today, you also have to look forward and consider what your requirements might be in the future.


Classification is an important consideration in your planning process because understanding your unique situation is critical to assure your final design establishes proper containment and permits proper usage. The scientific community has adopted three classifications, each with different capabilities and performance attributes. The Center for Disease Control (CDC) divides BSCs into three classifications, Class I, II and III, to meet varying research and clinical needs. With the exception of Class I, these cabinets use high efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filters in the exhaust and supply systems. As the need for international standards grew, the International Standards Organization (ISO) established a technical committee and work groups to set ISO classification standards. Learn as much as you can about the capabilities, limitations and appropriate use of equipment in each classification to assure you choose the most appropriate equipment for your situation.

Workflow and Ergonomics

Additional important considerations in selecting the right BSC are workflow and ergonomics. Biosafety cabinets are used for hours on a daily basis. You'll want a height-adjustable stand and an angled front sash in order to provide a better sitting position. You'll also want to think about strong, but glare-free, light sources.


It's important to determine whether your needs dictate use of a cleanroom because proper cleanroom design encompasses the entire air distribution system, including provisions for adequate, downstream air returns. A cleanroom is an environment that has a controlled level of contamination (dust, airborne microbes, aerosol particles, chemical vapors) specified by the number of particles per cubic meter at a defined particle size. It is typically used in manufacturing or scientific research.

Evaluation Testing and Maintenance

Standards have been established for field tests. They define the methods and acceptance criteria for determining qualification for field certification of all Class II biological safety cabinets. These procedures are intended to confirm that an installed cabinet evaluated under the current version of the Standard has met all design criteria. BSCs are required to pass field certification by an independent organization. Assessments should be done by an evaluator certified by an accrediting institution such as the National Sanitation Foundation (NSF) or International Organization for Standardization (ISO). Required testing:
  • Downflow Velocity Profile
  • Inflow Velocity
  • Airflow Smoke Patterns
  • HEPA Filter Leak Scan
  • Cabinet Leak Test (for initial setup or relocation)
  • Optional testing:
  • Lighting Intensity
  • Noise Level
  • Electrical Leakage
  • Electrical Ground Circuit Resistance
  • Electrical Polarity
  • Vibration
Testing and decontamination should also include blower and filter replacement and formaldehyde fumigation Proper maintenance of cabinets used for work at all biosafety levels cannot be over emphasized.