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 http://facilities.weill.cornell.edu/ 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 http://facilities.weill.cornell.edu/ 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 clorox@casupport.com 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 https://www.legifrance.gouv.fr/loda/id/LEGITEXT000025855276/


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: https://health.canada.ca/en/epathogen



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 (europa.eu) – 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)



Is a pipette tip considered a "sharp"?

According to the WCM's waste disposal procedures, a "sharp" is any glass, metal, plastic instrument or item that can cut or has the potential to cut, puncture, scratch or abrade skin, whether it is contaminated or not. Using this definition, a pipette tip is considered a sharp and must be placed in a sharps container. If you have any doubt, use a sharps container for disposal.

Can unused syringes (unopened package) be disposed in normal trash?

No, all syringes whether used or not must be disposed of in a sharps container.

Where do I obtain red bags labeled with the generator's name and address for WCM-generated biological waste?

For areas on the main campus that are serviced or managed by the college’s Housekeeping Services Department (A-E, LBRC, S, Feil, Weill Greenberg Center, Whitney, Oxford) red bags for regulated medical waste can be obtained by contacting Housekeeping Services at (646) 962-9912). These bags come pre-printed with the medical college’s name and address. The sizes available from the college are:

  • 23" x 24" Red Bag Liner
  • 33" x 40" Red Bag Liner

For areas on the main campus that are serviced by NYP Housekeeping (areas within NYP buildings), red bags can be purchase through NYP General Stores. You can order in person in Room AN-007 or by phone at 746-1961. The three types of red bags that are available through general stores are:

  • 117018 BAG LINER RED 15 X 9 X 24 WC 500 EA/CA (5923XHRP)
  • 147900 BAG LINER RED 30 X 36 WC 250 EA/CA (AD13036RPCP)
  • 125745 BAG LINER RED 39 X 48 WC 100 EA/CA (D13948RPC)

For areas located off-campus (425 E. 61st Street, New York Blood Center, etc.) red bags for regulated medical waste should be obtained from the service provider that is removing the waste from the facility. These bags must be properly labeled with the generator's company name and address prior to leaving the facility.

How do I request a collection for sharps containers?

To replace sharps containers at no cost, submit an online Sharps Collection Request Form. Complete the contact nformation section of the form and specify the number of large, regular or small sharps containers to be replaced. You will receive an email confirmation of your request. An empty container will be left for each full container collected.

How do I request an additional sharps container?

To request additional sharps containers at no cost, submit an online Sharps Collection Request Form. Complete the contact information section of the form and specify the number of large, regular or small sharps containers requested in the comments section. You will receive an email confirmation of your request.

When are sharps containers requested?

1300 York Avenue, Oxford Building, S-building, and other main campus locations (excluding Weill Greenberg Center): sharps containers are collected and exchanged on Wednesday and Thursdays of each week. An online Sharps Collection Request Form must be submitted by Tuesday at 5 p.m. to be collected that Wednesday and Thursday.

Weill Greenberg Center (1305 York Avenue): sharps containers are automatically collected and exchanged on Tuesday of each week for all known sharps container locations.

RR-Building and NYBC: sharps containers are collected monthly.

Burke Medical Research Institute: sharps containers are collected and exchanged twice a week. Requests must be submitted via online Sharps Collection Request Form. Normal collection days are on Tuesdays and Thursdays.

Offsite Clinical Locations: Contact EHS at ehs@med.cornell.edu or (212) 746-7233 to set-up sharps disposal services.

What sizes of sharps containers are available?

Information about the available sharps containers can be found within the Sharps Collection Request Form.

Can I schedule routine sharps container collections?

We have retired the sharps collection request forms previously posted on the EHS website. You can now submit and track these requests in Salute:

  1. Log in to Salute
  2. At the bottom of the left sidebar, select EHS Assistance
  3. On the top right corner of the screen, click the Make New Request button
  4. Select the appropriate request type
  5. Complete and submit the form

How do I dispose of sharps at home?

Proper disposal of household sharps, (e.g. needles, syringes, lancets) prevents exposure to children, pets, and sanitation workers and protects the health of the environment. Based on guidance from both the New York State Department of Health and Department of Environmental Conservation, the following steps should be taken to properly dispose of household sharps:

  • Place all unwanted sharps into a sharps container which can be purchased from your local drugstore.
  • Do not flush used sharps down the toilet or place loose sharps in the garbage or recycling containers
  • Do not bend, cut or re-cap used sharps as this represents an unnecessary risk of injury.
  • If you do not have a sharps container, place sharps into a plastic bottle that cannot be broken or punctured, such as a bleach or laundry detergent bottle. Write "CONTAINS SHARPS" on the outside of the bottle, and seal the cap closed with tape. You should place sharps into the appropriate container as soon as you use them to prevent exposure to others in the home.
  • Once full, bring the sharps container to a safe disposal site - do not place the sharps container in the normal trash or recycling. Please refer to the Department of Health's list of safe disposal sites in New York, which is available on their website or by calling their Growing Up Healthy hotline at (800) 522-5006 or TTY: (800) 655-1789. The Department of Environmental Conservation also provides guidance on their website.

Similar guidance is available for residents of New Jersey and Connecticut.

What are the requirements and what type of container do I need to set up for collecting red bag waste?

Red bags and red bag waste, i.e. regulated medical waste, must be placed in containers which are closable, durable and leak-proof, with the appropriate biohazardous waste symbol.

EHS recommends the following bins to be used for setting up red bag waste accumulation site:

  1. Fisher Scientific available: 8, 12, 18 gallon 
  2. Rubbermaid Wholesale available: 12 and 23 gallon
  3. Grainger available:  6, 10 and 14 gallon
  4. VWR Scientific available: 7, 12, 24 gallon

Can you tell me if all biological waste (e.g. empty tissue culture flasks that had cells in them, empty media tubes or containers) has to be autoclaved? Is there a list of what needs autoclaving, what can be thrown away in red bags, and what can be thrown

Certain biological wastes require the generator to decontaminate prior to disposal (e.g. autoclave or chemical disinfection). If the biological waste is generated from work with infectious agents or recombinant DNA designated BSL2 or higher then treatment (either autoclaving or chemical disinfection) is required prior to disposal.

Solid materials (e.g. flasks, dishes) contaminated with recombinant/synthetic nucleic acid vectors designated BSL2 or higher (i.e., Adenovirus, Lentivirus, Amphotropic Retroviruses) or infectious agents require decontamination by autoclaving or chemical disinfection prior to disposal into a red bag. Sharps (e.g. serological pipettes, glass material) contaminated with these materials must also be decontaminated prior to disposal into a sharps container.

Tissue culture flasks, media tubes or containers used in the culturing of animal or human derived cell line do not require treatment prior to disposal into a red bag. However, if the cell line is known to be infected (e.g., EBV) then decontamination (autoclave or chemical disinfection) is required prior to disposal into red bags. Sharps (e.g. serological pipettes, glass material) contaminated with these materials must also be decontaminated prior to disposal into a sharps container.

Decontamination of liquid biological waste is required prior to drain disposal. Guidance for disposing of tissue culture waste is available in the EHS Update PDF icon Tissue Culture Waste Disposal Guide.

Additional information regarding the disposal of laboratory generated waste is available on the EHS website; the PDF icon Waste Disposal Procedures manual provides complete guidance on waste disposal, including biological waste management and specific disposal procedures, the PDF icon Laboratory Waste Quick Guide is also a useful resource.

Where can sharps containers be mounted in clinical spaces?

The OSHA Bloodborne Pathogen Standard mandates the use of sharps containers and the guidance provided below must be followed to ensure sharp containers are functional, accessible, visible and user accommodations considered.

  • General Location
    • Containers should be readily visible and within easy horizontal reach of the user. In general, they should not be placed in corners, behind doors, under cabinets or sinks, by light switches or in areas where patients might sit or lie.
  • Installation Height
    • The user should have a clear unobstructed view of the container.
    • The container should be within arm’s reach and below the eye level of 95% of adult female workers.
    • Optimal Installation Range:
      • 52 -56 inches at a standing work station
      • 38- 42 inches for a seated work station
    • Additional Consideration:
      • In phlebotomy areas, floor model containers may provide the safest user access.
      • In pediatric areas, containers should be mounted at standing work station height to prevent accidental access.

Additional information on the selection, use and installation of sharps containers is available in the Sharps NIOSH document.

Contact Us

Go to the staff directory for individual contacts within EHS. You may also use the Weill Cornell Medicine online directory to search for faculty and staff.

Create an EHS Incident


Weill Cornell Medicine Environmental Health and Safety 402 East 67th Street
Room LA-0020
New York, NY 10065 Phone: (646) 962-7233 Fax: (646) 962-0288