As part of the research and teaching activities of Juniata College a number of infectious agents defined by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) as category I or II agents may be present in selected laboratories. Category I agents are not known to consistently cause disease in healthy adult humans. Category II agents include the broad spectrum of indigenous moderate-risk agents that are present in the community and associated with human disease of varying severity. No infectious agents above biosafety level II are to be used at Juniata College.
For details of the classifications see Biosafety in Microbiological and Biomedical Laboratories (BMBL) 5th Edition.
Category I agents require biosafety laboratory 1 (BSL1) and category II agents require biosafety laboratory 2 (BSL2) containment and handling procedures. The recommended biosafety level(s) represent those conditions under which the agent ordinarily can be safely handled. Faculty assigned with oversight of laboratories are specifically and primarily responsible for assessing the risks and appropriately applying the recommended biosafety levels. The requirements associated with BSL1 and BSL2 laboratories are summarized below.
Biosafety Level 1 practices, safety equipment, and facility design and construction are appropriate for undergraduate and secondary educational training and teaching laboratories, and for other laboratories in which work is done with defined and characterized strains of viable microorganisms not known to consistently cause disease in healthy adult humans.
Many agents not ordinarily associated with disease processes in humans are, however, opportunistic pathogens and may cause infection in the young, the aged, and immunodeficient or immunosuppressed individuals. Vaccine strains that have undergone multiple in vivo passages should not be considered avirulent simply because they are vaccine strains.
Biosafety Level 1 represents a basic level of containment that relies on standard microbiological practices with no special primary or secondary barriers recommended, other than a sink for handwashing.
Biosafety Level 2 practices, equipment, and facility design and construction are applicable to clinical, diagnostic, teaching, and other laboratories in which work is done with the broad spectrum of indigenous moderate-risk agents that are present in the community and associated with human disease of varying severity. With good microbiological techniques, these agents can be used safely in activities conducted on the open bench, provided the potential for producing splashes or aerosols is low. Level 2 is appropriate when work is done with any human-derived blood, body fluids, tissues, or primary human cell lines where the presence of an infectious agent may be unknown.
Primary hazards to personnel working with these agents relate to accidental percutaneous or mucous membrane exposures, or ingestion of infectious materials. Extreme caution should be taken with contaminated needles or sharp instruments. Even though organisms routinely manipulated at Biosafety Level 2 are not known to be transmissible by the aerosol route, procedures with aerosol or high splash potential that may increase the risk of such personnel exposure must be conducted in primary containment equipment, or in devices such as a biological safety cabinet or safety centrifuge cups. Other primary barriers should be used as appropriate, such as splash shields, face protection, gowns, and gloves.
Secondary barriers such as handwashing sinks and waste decontamination facilities must be available to reduce potential environmental contamination.
The use of infectious agents will be limited to volumes of less than 10 liters in any single experiment, unless a detailed protocol has been approved by the Institutional Biosafety Committee. Such a protocol will be required to conform to CDC guidelines covering the use of large volumes of infectious agents.
Processing of infectious waste
The following guidelines for the handling and disposal of infectious waste will be followed. These protocols are based on Pennsylvania requirements and recommendations of the CDC and constitute good laboratory practice.
For details of Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection regulations applicable to infectious waste generation, storage, collection, and disposal see PA Code Chapter 284
Infectious waste will be separated into three categories: dry waste, liquid waste and sharps.
Appropriate containers for infectious waste, designated by biohazard labels, will be available in laboratories utilizing infectious agents. All biohazard waste will be placed in such labeled containers which will be removed every 30 days by a licensed contractor. Per Pennsylvania Code 284.413, if infectious waste becomes putrescent during the 30 day storage period, it must be moved offsite within 24 hours for processing or disposal. Prior to placing material in biohazard containers, dry waste shall be autoclaved. Autoclave indicator tape shall be used to insure complete inactivation of viable infectious agents. In the case of liquid waste, the autoclaved fluids will be washed down the sink. Razor and scalpel blades and hypodermic needles exposed to infectious agents shall be placed in designated biohazard sharps containers. Glass pipets exposed to infectious agents shall be placed in heavy cardboard or rigid plastic containers marked with biohazard symbols. Sealed containers with sharps or glass pipets may be placed inside designated biohazard containers provided the word “Sharps” is written clearly on the side of the box.
Faculty assigned with laboratory oversight are specifically and primarily responsible for the safe operation of the laboratory. His/her knowledge and judgment are critical in assessing risks and appropriately following these guidelines. The recommended biosafety level represents those conditions under which the agent can ordinarily be safely handled.
Faculty assigned with laboratory oversight are also responsible for training all personnel, including students, on the appropriate procedures for handling and disposing of infectious agents. These procedures will follow those designated for each infectious agent by the CDC Biosafety in Microbiological and Biomedical Laboratories (BMBL) 5th Edition. Records of training shall be maintained within the academic department, with a copy furnished to the Director of Environmental Health and Safety. The training program shall include a review of Juniata’s Biosafety Protocol and familiarization with safety procedures such as:
- Disposal of sharps and needles
- Disposal of contaminated supplies, without contact
- Handling contaminated containers of infectious wastes
- Safe storage of wastes awaiting their disposal
- Personal hygiene practices