Biological Safety

The Lab Safety Program at App State established biosafety policies and procedures to ensure that biological research is conducted safely and in compliance with federal, state, local, and university regulations. The Lab Safety Program provides guidance on conducting risk assessments, implementation of proper biological safety practices, the use of applicable engineering controls, appropriate lab design, necessary training, and emergency response. We are one of many university committees such as the Institutional Biosafety Committee (IBC), the Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee (IACUC), and Institutional Review Board (IRB) that are responsible for the approval of research involving biological materials that may pose a risk to humans, animals, plants, or the environment and include infectious agents (viruses, bacteria, parasites, fungi), recombinant/synthetic nucleic acids or proteins, toxins, and allergens.

The foundation of any biological safety program is risk assessment. Labs should perform a risk assessment prior to beginning any work involving biological agents to identify potential hazards. The nature of the biological agents utilized, all proposed procedures, and the lab design should be considered during this evaluation. These assessments should be utilized to determine which biocontainment level (biosafety level) and laboratory practices are appropriate for their research. For more details on risk assessment in the lab, take a look at the Lab Safety Plan and the Biosafety Level 2 SOP Template available on our documentation page!

Biosafety Levels

A biosafety level (BSL) is a set of biocontainment precautions (i.e., PPE, procedures, equipment, design features) determined to be specifically appropriate for the biological materials to be used while performing all proposed operations within a given space. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) designate these levels (BSL-1,2,3 and 4) in ascending order, by degree of protection provided to personnel, the environment, and the community. Using standard microbiological practices as the base, each BSL builds on the biocontainment procedures and precautions employed at lower levels of containment. Only BSL-1 and 2 research are conducted at App State, as the university does not have the facility infrastructure to support BSL-3 or 4 containment.

BSL 1 - is suitable for work involving well-characterized agents not known to consistently cause disease in immunocompetent adult humans and present minimal potential hazard to laboratory personnel and the environment. Work is typically conducted on open bench tops using standard microbiological practices. Special containment or facility design is not required.

BSL 2 - is suitable for work with agents associated with human disease and pose moderate potential hazards to personnel and the environment. BSL-2 differs from BSL-1 primarily because: 1) laboratory personnel receive specific training in handling potentially infectious agents 2) access to the laboratory is restricted when work is being conducted; and 3) All procedures in which infectious aerosols or splashes may be created are conducted in BSCs.