Biological Safety Cabinets (BSCs)

Biological safety cabinets (BSCs) are among the most effective, as well as the most commonly used primary containment devices in laboratories working with infectious agents.

Biological Cabinets Types

The three general types available (Class I, II, III) have performance characteristics and applications which are described here. Properly maintained Class I and II BSCs, when used in conjunction with appropriate microbiological techniques, provide an effective containment system for safe manipulation of moderate and high-risk microorganisms (Biosafety Levels 2 and 3 agents).

  • Both Class I and II BSCs have inward face velocities (75-100 linear feet per minute) that provide comparable levels of containment for laboratory workers and the immediate environment from infectious aerosols generated within the cabinet.
  • Class II BSCs have the additional advantage of providing protection to the research material by high-efficiency particulate air (HEPA)-filtration of the air flow down across the work surface (vertical laminar flow).
  • Class III cabinets offer the maximum protection to laboratory personnel, the community, and the environment because all hazardous materials are contained in a totally enclosed, ventilated cabinet.

Biosafety Cabinet Work Practices

  1. Plan procedures carefully.
  2. Start-up the biosafety cabinet and let it run at least 5-10 minutes before beginning to work.
  3. Do not overload cabinet. Separate clean from contaminated items (work from clean to dirty).
  4. Wear gloves and long sleeved lab coats.
  5. Decontaminate the cabinet with disinfectant before and after work is completed.
  6. Protect vacuum system by trap.
  7. Avoid disruption of airflow (turbulence); extra items storage and movement in and around the cabinet.
  8. Perform work 10-15 cm. back from the front intake grille.
  9. Equipment that causes turbulence should be placed in back 1/3 of work surface. Do not block the back grille.
  10. Avoid use of flame. Turbulence and filter damage may occur.
  11. Avoid use of UV light.
  12. Check the periodical test performance sticker affixed on the cabinet