Biological safety cabinets (or BSC’s or biosafety cabinets) are one of the most important tools in modern labs. They provide an enclosed, ventilated space for safely handling hazardous materials. Most labs with a biosafety level rating have these cabinets to handle samples in. Here, we’ve broken down a few FAQs on BSC decontamination and certification.
Q: Why Do You Need to Decontaminate a BSC?
Answer: Biosafety cabinets are vital units that keep personnel safe. Usually, the materials handled within the cabinets are incredibly dangerous. Essentially, that’s why they’re in the biosafety cabinet! Human beings and the environment can’t make direct contact with them without consequences.
And, lab contamination can happen for various reasons. Possible sources are dirty lab coats, unclean work areas, and poor culture management. While discovering contamination can be problematic, specialists such as SEPS can quickly and efficiently decontaminate and certify your biological safety cabinets.
Additionally, the residue of these substances can build up inside the cabinet. Obviously, this buildup is equally as hazardous as the material itself. Sometimes, lab personnel can mishandle these specimens and cause an accident or spill. In all of these cases, decontamination is a necessary laboratory maintenance service.
Q: How Do You Decontaminate a BSC?
Answer: One of the more primitive methods to decontaminate a biosafety cabinet is bleach. However, it shouldn’t be a regular cleaning method. What most people don’t know is that bleach, while a germicide, is corrosive to the steel that most biosafety cabinets are made of. Therefore, you should limit your use of bleach to emergencies only. Basically, you should only use bleach after a sudden spill or accident.
These days, the preferred method for decontamination is chlorine dioxide. At S.E.P.S., this is the method we use most often. Chlorine dioxide is not a liquid, but a gas. It’s validated and approved by NSF/ANSI Standard 49. Additionally, it doesn’t leave behind any residue or harmful byproducts.
There are several other ways to decontaminate and sterilize, like formaldehyde. However, chlorine dioxide is definitely the most popular method.
Q: How Long Does BSC Decontamination Take?
Answer: Chlorine dioxide decontamination takes significantly less time than other decontamination methods. Usually, for one biosafety cabinet, the process takes about 3-4 hours.
If you have several BSC’s in your lab, then we can decontaminate at the same time, which reduces the time. Depending on your lab’s specific circumstances, we are able to work on 6 to 8 BSC’s in one day.
Q: Can We Work in the Lab During Decontamination and Certification?
Answer: Due to the inherent danger of the contaminated BSCs and the chemicals used, the laboratory must be vacant. Signs will be posted clearly, so that your staff will be aware of the lab safety maintenance taking place.
While this may be a short-term inconvenience, the long-term result will pay off. Biological safety cabinets are vital to a research facility’s work. Remediating contaminated BSCs and certifying them enables your lab to run smoothly, reduces future downtime, and makes your workplace safe and compliant.
Q: Why is Lab Equipment Certification Necessary?
Answer: Obviously, decontamination is a critical part of biosafety cabinet maintenance. However, another equally crucial aspect is BSC certification.
Certification is an important aspect of running a lab which verifies that your BSC is working safely and effectively. At S.E.P.S, our technicians perform a series of tests to check the performance of biosafety cabinets. Inflow velocity tests, HEPA filter leak tests, smoke visualization, light intensity and sound tests are just a few of the tests performed.
All biological safety cabinets are certified to meet NSF-49 F guidelines and manufacture specifications. Our technicians follow strict standard operating procedures (SOPs), which remain in compliance with Federal and International Safety Guidelines.
Once your equipment is certified, your lab will receive complete documentation for each unit. These documents officially confirm the results of the certification. When you have your cabinet certified, you’re receiving a guarantee that it’s doing its job and all lab personnel are safe.
In any lab, safety should be the top priority. At S.E.P.S., all of our services are in place to provide labs with the resources necessary to keep them as safe as possible. If your lab uses a biosafety cabinet, decontamination and certification are indispensable services.