Biological Safety

How do I properly dispose of a Biological Safety Cabinet (BSC)?

To dispose of a Biological Safety Cabinet (BSC), the laboratory should:

  1. Surface decontaminate the BSC.
  2. Contact the vendor to decontaminate the entire BSC, including the filters.
  3. Ensure the vendor removes the filters and provides confirmation of decontamination to the laboratory representative.
  4. Contact Facilities Management & Campus Operations using the online web service via to request a pick-up for the filters and BSC. The lab must provide an account number in the request.

For further questions, contact EHS.

How do I properly relocate a Biological Safety Cabinet (BSC)?

To relocate a Biological Safety Cabinet (BSC), the laboratory should:

  1. Surface decontaminate the BSC.
  2. Contact the vendor to decontaminate the entire BSC including the filters.
  3. Contact Facilities Management & Campus Operations using the online web service via to request a disconnection of hoses/connections and relocation of equipment. The lab must provide an account number in the request.
  4. Contact vendor to recertify the BSC once it is properly situated in the new location.

How long does diluted bleach last?

For the answer to this question, see the email to the Director of WCMC EHS dated February 6, 2003:

Thank you for asking about the shelf life of Ultra regular CLOROX liquid bleach.

When bleach and water are mixed together to create a cleaning or disinfecting solution, the solution is only good for 24 hours. The temperature of the water does not affect the cleaning or disinfecting abilities of the solution. After the 24 hours, the solution begins to lose needed disinfecting properties. Therefore, it is recommended that for disinfecting purposes, the solution is made fresh daily.

Our bottles do not have an expiration date, however, they do have a production date. Once you understand how to read the production date, you can decipher the shelf life of the bottle. Please look below for a chart explaining our production codes.

MD21002MD21= 2001002nd day of year
A90288A90= 2000288th day of year

We recommend storing our bleach at room temperatures. It can be stored for about 6 months at temperatures between 50 and 70 degrees Fahrenheit. After this time, bleach will be begin to degrade at a rate of 20% each year until totally degraded to salt and water. Storing at temperatures much higher than 70 degrees Fahrenheit could cause the bleach to lose its effectiveness and degrade more rapidly. However, if you require 6% sodium hypochlorite, you should change your supply every three months.

I hope this information is helpful. Again, thank you for giving me this opportunity to discuss our product.

Mary Brylinski Product Specialist


How often does a biological safety cabinet have to be certified?

Generally, biological safety cabinets (BSC) must be certified on an annual basis. Some special operations may require certification every six months. Relocating a BSC requires re-certification and may require decontamination. Contact the Biological Safety Officer at EHS when a cabinet is to be relocated.

When does work with recombinant DNA or other biological agents require approval?

Research involving:

  • Recombinant or synthetic nucleic acid molecules,
  • Biological agents classified as Risk Group 2, 3, and 4 in the NIH Guidelines,
  • Select agents as listed by the USDA/CDC,
  • Clinical research involving use of investigational biological products (biologics) in human subjects including human gene transfer research.

 must be reviewed and approved by the Institutional Biosafety Committee (IBC) prior to initiation.

Related Links


Who can I have certify my biological safety cabinet?

A list of service providers for biological safety cabinet certification and decontamination services is available on the EHS website.

Which products are EPA-registered disinfectants?

EPA updates registered disinfectant lists periodically to reflect label changes, cancellations and transfers of product registrations. Information in the lists does not constitute a label replacement. Inclusion of products in these lists does not constitute an endorsement of one product over another. Before applying any EPA-registered disinfectant product, users must read the label to determine if the product is approved for the intended use site or pest.

Selected EPA-registered Disinfectants

Can I use a bunsen burner inside a biological safety cabinet?

Most biological safety cabinets at the WCM recirculate air within the cabinet allowing flammable gases to concentrate. Therefore, Bunsen burners which use natural gas and other flammable gases should not be used within a biological safety cabinet. See the EHS Update "PDF icon Flammable Gases in Biological Safety Cabinets" for further information.

Are human cell lines applicable to OSHA's Bloodborne Pathogen Standard?

Yes, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration considers human cell lines applicable to the bloodborne pathogen standard. Human cell lines at the WCM are treated at least at Biological Safety Level 2 (BSL2).

I don't want to change my bleach squirt bottle daily. Are there any other options?

Yes, there are products that leave bleach and other disinfectants in their concentrated form until they are used. An example is the Fresh-Mix Bleach Sprayer from MarketLab. Other products are available. If you have a products you have found useful, please let us know.

Can I use paraformaldehyde to decontaminate my contaminated equipment?

No, the paraformaldehyde decontamination procedure can be very dangerous if not performed correctly. This procedure may only be performed by trained professionals with appropriate equipment. Contact EHS or an approved certifier for more information.

I work with mice. Do I need to attend the bloodborne pathogen training?

If you are injecting mice with any bloodborne pathogens like human cell lines, HIV, Hepatitis B virus, Hepatitis C virus, you fall into the OSHA Bloodborne Pathogen requirements and must attend the WMC Bloodborne Pathogens training. EHS provides BBP training as part of the Laboratory Safety and Clinical and General Safety training sessions.

I am conducting a laboratory and/or clinical exercise/training involving biological materials/specimens. Can I utilize a classroom, conference room etc. for these procedures? How should I dispose of specimens, sharps, and other biological waste produced b

Dedicated laboratory or clinical spaces should be utilized for these procedures, with adherence to standard microbiological practices. These include the availability and use of a hand-washing sink; the use of non-porous surfaces and furniture to allow material to be easily cleaned and decontaminated with an appropriate disinfectant; and the use of appropriate personal protective equipment, or P.P.E. (e.g. laboratory coats/gowns, gloves, surgical mask, goggles/safety glasses).

It is inappropriate to use rooms that:

  • do not contain hand-washing sinks
  • contain carpeting and/or porous, cloth-covered furniture and work surfaces
  • are not intended to be utilized for laboratory or clinical exercises

Recognizable animal parts (e.g. carcasses or organs) should be deposited in the dedicated storage areas located in the applicable RARC Facilities. Contact RARC: (212) 746-1022 prior to disposal with questions regarding the appropriate use and location of these facilities.The materials should be appropriately containerized and placed in double red bags prior to transporting to the storage areas for disposal.

For additional information about the proper disposal for pathological waste, including human pathological waste, refer to the PDF icon Pathological Waste Management and Disposal EHS Update or contact EHS.

Sharps waste (e.g. needles, syringes) must be disposed via sharps container, which should available within the laboratory. Exchange of sharps containers can be requested via the online Sharps Collection Request Form. If sharps containers are not currently available in the intended work location (e.g. clinical area), contact EHS: (646) 962-7223 for assistance in obtaining an appropriate sharps container.

Solid, non-sharps waste (e.g., kimwipes, pads, gloves, intact plastic ware) contaminated with biological materials must be disposed via red bag waste containers, which must be available within the laboratory or clinical area. Contact Housekeeping: (646) 962-9912 to request approved red bags.

What is the procedure for drawing blood within a lab and its lab members?

The following conditions must be met to draw blood in a lab:

Safety First:

Regulatory Requirements:

  • The collection of blood samples for research purposes is a common practice. In all cases, justification for the volume selected should be included in the IRB protocol and Informed Consent Form (ICF).
  • Blood draw must be done by a licensed health care professional (e.g., phlebotomist)


There is a real concern for working with your own cells in a research laboratory setting:“No-one should work with their own blood samples if the intention is to transform lymphocytes. In the event of an accidental exposure, the immune system will not challenge these transformed cells.  Similarly, individuals should not work with the blood of colleagues with whom they share work space.”

In regard to import/export, are there nation-specific resources available for restricted biological agents/toxins?

Consolidated list below, including additional link for France, adding the plant pathogen list from the Australia Group, and addition of the European Union Dual Use Regulation info, as well as the Export control info for Switzerland.

The Australia Group List

List of Human and Animal Pathogens and Toxins for Export Control

List of plant pathogens for Export Control


List of Controlled Organisms

Legal text: Arrêté du 30 avril 2012 fixant la liste des micro-organismes et toxines prévue à l'article L. 5139-1 du code de la santé publique


Biological Agents and Toxins List

United States

Select Agent and Toxins List

United States

US Department of Commerce Export Control List  -Special Materials and Related Equipment, Chemicals, “Microorganisms,” and “Toxins”

United Kingdom

Specified Animal Pathogens Order (SAPO)

United Kingdom

Anti-terrorism, Crime and Security Act (ACTSA) Schedule 5 pathogens


Security Sensitive Biological Agents (SSBAs) that are included in Schedule 1 of the Human Pathogens and Toxins Regulations (HPTR)

On the below website, filter search by ‘SSBA’ and get the full list for Canada:



Adopted the US Select Agent Rule list


European Union

EU Dual use Regulation

Regulation (EU) 2021/821 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 20 May 2021 setting up a Union regime for the control of exports, brokering, technical assistance, transit and transfer of dual-use items. EUR-Lex - 32021R0821 - EN - EUR-Lex ( – always check the most recent consolidated version of this legislative text to have the updated list.

1C351 : Human and animal pathogens and "toxins"

1C353 : 'Genetic elements' and 'genetically-modified organisms'

1C354: Plant pathogens



State Secretariat for Economic Affairs (SECO)


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