Purchasing Biosafety Cabinets

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Having a biological safety cabinet in a laboratory can be essential for the safety and protection of both the personnel in the laboratory and the products they are working with. If you are a lab manager who is in the market for purchasing biosafety cabinets, the following steps can help ensure that you’re purchasing the piece of equipment that is best suited for your lab.

Linda_buys a Biological Safety Cabinet from Lab Manager Magazine on Vimeo.

1. Assess the safety risks when purchasing biosafety cabinets

Biosafety cabinets are required in labs where biohazards are present. However, there are a variety of classes and types of cabinets available, so you should be sure that the cabinet you select is one that targets your specific safety risks. To make sure you’re selecting the right one, you should undertake a safety risk assessment, which incorporates the following four components: hazard identification, exposure assessment, dose response assessment and risk characterization.

2. Choose the proper size when purchasing biosafety cabinets

Another important consideration for biosafety cabinets is size. You want to be sure that the cabinet you purchase fits properly in your work space. First, consider the location of the installment, and ensure proper clearance. Next, locate the appropriate services — such as electrical outlets — to make sure the cabinet will function properly once it’s in place. Finally, make sure there is sufficient room in doorways and hallways to easily move and install the cabinet.

3. Consider ergonomic features purchasing biosafety cabinets

Lab staff may spend a lot of time working in or around the biological safety cabinet. For the comfort of workers, take into account ergonomic considerations when choosing your biosafety cabinet.

Ergonomics play a large factor when purchasing biosafety cabinets

Cabinets should allow workers to sit or stand at a variety of heights while they work. Cabinets should also have attributes like comfortable forearm rests, proper lighting, quiet operation and an efficient work zone. As well as keeping lab staff comfortable, ergonomic features also help increase productivity and minimize the risk of injury.

4. Inquire about pricing purchasing biosafety cabinets

Biosafety cabinets are long-term investments, so you shouldn’t just look at sticker prices before you buy. You should also consider the lifetime cost of operating the cabinet to ensure you’re investing an appropriate amount. The lifetime cost includes things like energy-saving features, service life and the product’s track record.

Biosafety cabinets are crucial for a safe and productive lab, but they usually only have about 15 years of usable life. To determine whether it might be time to replace your lab’s biosafety cabinet, check out this helpful white paper. You can verify that your cabinet is still providing adequate protection, and if not, what kind of equipment you should replace it with.

A Proper Biosafety Training Program is a Must

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A Proper Biosafety Training Program is a must

A biosafety cabinet can be an essential tool for effective laboratory work. However, it is also essential that a complete biosafety program be implemented in any laboratory that uses a biosafety cabinet. A biosafety cabinet program can help ensure that users of the cabinet and those around it stay safe and uncontaminated while work is being done.

Not implementing a program can have disastrous results. For example, just last week, an employee at the world-famous disease lab in Winnipeg was infected with a dangerous disease due to a lack of proper training and no formal safety instruction program in the lab.

The Importance of Proper Biosafety Training Program for Biosafety Cabinet Users

There are many components to a biosafety program, and one of the most important for those using a biosafety cabinet is proper routine training. The reason routine training is so crucial is that user error when operating a biosafety cabinet can have catastrophic results.

Routine training can help regularly remind both supervisors and employees of the important do’s and don’ts of safely working with a biosafety cabinet – and there are many for users to keep in mind. For example, a training program can remind users that simple things like an arm movement blocking the cabinet’s front airflow grill may result in contaminated air leaking out into the laboratory, as well as ruin the experiment inside the cabinet. It can also remind them that not working at the proper sash height may cause an imbalance of inflow and downflow velocities, resulting in contaminated air either entering the sterile work area or flowing into the laboratory. Routine training is one of the most effective ways to avoid simple user errors like those mentioned above and keep everyone safe.

Training Resources for a Proper Biosafety Training Program

If you are looking to develop the right biosafety program for your facility, one of the best resources is NuAire. NuAire is not only an expert on biosafety cabinets and their usage, but they also have a series of helpful Working Safely videos, which provide a wealth of important, easy-to-understand information about how to use a biosafety cabinet and what to keep in mind while you do so. NuAire’s videos provide instructions on all aspects of using a biosafety cabinet – from proper preparation to effective cleanup – and they are an extremely valuable tool for any lab looking to build and implement a regular training program for its biosafety cabinet users.


Watch Our Working Safely Videos Online →

Novartis Pharmaceuticals are developing a new way to treat cancer

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Morris Plains, NJ: In what may prove to be the next breakthrough in cancer treatment, researchers at Novartis Pharmaceuticals are developing a new way to treat cancer. The process, known as CAR-T, involves removing the patient’s T-cells, genetically engineering them in the lab to recognize and attack tumor cells, and returning them to the patient’s body.

While this process may sound like a clinical trial that is many years out, it is actually close to becoming a reality. Early clinical trials involving patients with acute lymphoblastic leukemia who stopped responding to other treatments have shown some success. Many of the patients’ tumors completely disappeared, and several patients have remained cancer-free for long periods.

“There are going to be many other tests, in other cancers, immune diseases and even some genetic diseases may eventually be treated,” Dr. David Epstein, the Novartis Pharmaceuticals Division Head, told CNBC’s Nightly Business Report. “So we don’t know if it’s going to be used for thousands of patients, or tens of thousands of patients, or in the best case scenario, many years out, even more.”

Novartis Pharmaceuticals is leading the push to bring this new treatment to fruition. CAR-T stands for chimeric antigen receptor therapy. It’s a form of immunotherapy known as adoptive cell transfer in which treatments are designed to use the patient’s own immune cells to fight cancer. Novartis says that if all goes well, its first product could hit the market as early as 2017.

Sterility is of the utmost importance when handling patient cells. Clinical researchers at Novartis view every cell culture as an extension of the patient, and because of that, they engage in the most rigorous biosafety measures. Researchers must wear several layers of personal protective equipment, including a lab coat, two pairs of gloves, goggles and masks.

Additional biosafety is provided by using NuAire custom biosafety cabinets while working with cell cultures. These cabinets offer Class II protection for personnel, product and the environment. They can be used for applications that require protection from potentially harmful aerosols and airborne particles. NuAire custom solutions aren’t limited to cancer research – they allow for a variety of application uses.


Biosafety Cabinets Assist with Outbreak of H5N2

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NuAire Biosafety Cabinets help assist with H5N2 outbreak

A new strain of the H5N2 virus has spread to poultry populations across the country, including cases in Iowa, Minnesota, Arkansas, Idaho, Kansas, Missouri, North Dakota, Oregon, South Dakota, Washington and Wisconsin. The first instance of the virus appeared in poultry farms in British Columbia.

The outbreak’s reach is such that some labs are working overtime to keep up with the cases of avian flu. Before the outbreak in Minnesota, the Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory at the University of Minnesota — the only lab in the state capable of testing for the virus — had 5 full-time technicians. The lab has increased its staff to 12, and they are all carrying a heavy workload, performing well over 100 tests a day.

If your laboratory is dealing with a similar surge, it’s crucial that you have the necessary equipment at your disposal to ensure your staff members’ safety as they work harder and longer hours.

Testing with the right tools such as Biosafety Cabinets

The lab technicians have a number of tools that aid them in performing tests in a safe environment. Chief among them is the NuAire Biosafety Cabinets, which allows laboratory workers to isolate themselves from dangerous viruses while performing tests with ease.

A biosafety safety cabinet differs from a glove box used to handle severe biohazards in that it has an open access section that protects the end user by an air barrier. The air barrier at the front of the cabinet helps prevent contamination from infectious splashes or aerosols. The air flows evenly across the work surface to help prevent cross-contamination. The exhaust air passes through a HEPA filter before recirculating into the laboratory environment or exhausted through a facility’s HVAC system.

These measures ensure the necessary safety your laboratory workers without compromising their ability to respond to ongoing threats.

Navigating the current crisis

Although there is no expected direct risk for humans, consumers are still certain to see an impact due to the impact on the poultry market — putting pressure on healthcare research labs across the country. If your lab has experience dealing with H5N2, it’s inevitable that you’ll feel the crunch as well.

In these critical times, it’s more important than ever that your staff has the right equipment to help them do their jobs efficiently and safely. As you invest in the future of your laboratory, biosafety cabinets should be at the top of your list.

Biosafety Cabinet Tips, Cleaning Up a Spill

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Cleaning a Spill within a Biosafety Cabinet


The Environmental Health and Safety Department at Iowa State University shows how to properly clean a spill in your Biosafety Cabinet.

Spills within the biosafety cabinet should be handled by removing the contaminated absorbent toweling and disposing it into a biohazard bag. Splatters onto items within the biosafety cabinet, as well as the cabinet interior, should be wiped with a towel dampened with an appropriate disinfectant. Hands should be washed whenever gloves are changed or removed.

It is also smart to spray and wipe potentially contaminated walls, work surfaces, and implements with an appropriate disinfectant. For large spills one should flood the work surface with disinfectant and allow to stand 10 to 15 minutes before absorbing and wiping clean. Always check the spill pan under the work surface and disinfect as well.


Biosafety Cabinet Use from Lab Safety Institute

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It might be a little dated but this video is a great learning and reminder exercise when working in your Biological Safety Cabinet. You can compare to your procedures when working in your Biosafety Cabinet and even pick up on a few things or point out what you might think is incorrect. We make some great Biosafety Cabinets designed for long lastings safety but sometimes it is only as good as its end user if you’re not using the cabinet properly.

You can see one of our old “Blue” cabinets being used :)… Like I said long lasting.


Why You Should Work at the Proper Sash Window Level

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Work at the Proper Biosafety Cabinet Window Sash Level

Class II Biological Safety Cabinets, or BSCs, provide vital personal, product, and environmental protections in the laboratory setting. BSCs go through a certification process to meet the NSF/ASNI 49 and/or EN 12469 standards. However operating errors can negate the carefully designed protections. Laboratory workers must operate at the proper window sash level to prevent potential contamination.

How a Class II Biological Safety Cabinet Works

Window Sash’s Airflow Impact

Biosafety cabinets have a movable or fixed window on the front that protects workers from the active work area. This is called the window sash. A cabinet’s certification will be based on having the window sash positioned at specific heights due to the potential impacts on downflow and inflow velocities. Current industry standards will provide a workable window sash height of 8, 10, or 12 inches (203, 254 or 305 mm).

Proper Window Height Notification

Most cabinet’s will have some type of notification of where the window should be placed during work activities. New cabinets and even some from the 1990’s will have a window sash alarm if not aligned properly.


Before a BSC leaves the NuAire factory it will go through testing that includes airflow balancing placing the workable sash height at the level you requested 8, 10, or 12 inches (203, 254 or 305 mm). A professional in the field will then certify your cabinet after installation at the window sash height you requested.

Window sash positioning is among the most vital information about biosafety cabinets and is as important as proper laboratory sterilization. The Biosafety Cabinet works to keep contaminated air from entering the work zone and into the laboratory as well as minimize cross-contamination within the work zone through unidirectional air.

The accuracy of this biosafety process depends on the cabinet maintaining a balance between inflow and downflow velocities. When working within the cabinet and not placing the cabinet’s window sash at the certified working level you compromise airflow balancing. If the inflow velocity is too strong, contaminated air can enter the sterile work area and contaminate the work. Excessive downflow velocity can push contaminated air from inside the cabinet out into the laboratory without filtering as well as create turbulent air at the work surface causing product contamination. The result of improper airflow balance can be seen below.

Improper Airflow Balance

Not working at the proper window sash height can throw off the airflow balance within a Biosafety Cabinet.


Potential Risks: Contaminated Air and Work Space

Unbalanced airflow velocities pose heightened risks when dealing with infectious materials that can pose serious safety risks to lab workers. However, the imbalance can also destroy complex, controlled experiment conditions such as those used in growing cell cultures.

Proper window sash positioning can reinforce worker diligence on properly interacting with the cabinet. The easy access allows the operating worker to use careful arm movements that help minimize the amount of room air that enters into the cabinet. A sash that’s positioned too high or low can leave the worker constantly reaching up and down, churning the interior air, and increasing the chance of laboratory equipment handling errors, and introducing risks of contamination and splattering.


NuAire Biosafety Cabinets for Quality

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Built in 1987 and Still Protecting Through 2015


For nearly half a century, NuAire has been considered the industry leader in the production of reliable, safe, ergonomically designed laboratory equipment. NuAire’s outstanding products include biological safety cabinets, CO2 water-jacketed and direct-heat incubators, Laminar air flow equipment, custom biological enclosures, ultra-low temperature freezers, centrifuges, small research animal handling equipment, pharmacy barrier isolators, polypropylene fume hoods and casework, and more. NuAire’s biosafety products go through meticulous manufacturing, rigorous testing, and are handled with excellent service, and are considered to be of the highest quality on the market. However, in addition to creating some of the sturdiest and most reliable products available, our company is also known for producing laboratory products that last for an exceptionally long time–particularly our biosafety cabinets.


One of the finest examples of the enduring quality of NuAire’s cabinets is the LabGard NU-425-400 Unit Series 5. The cabinet, built in 1987, is over 27 years old. However, despite its age, the cabinet looks pristine, and with minimal repair to a gas shock that holds up the hinged window front, could be restored to perfect working order. This means that a one-time purchase of a NuAire product can still remain useful nearly three decades later if the owner handles it properly and performs proper maintenance. NuAire products are not only of outstanding quality but also outstanding value. With a one-time expense, they won’t need to be replaced for years to come.


View our line of Biological Safety Cabinets


NuAire’s products last a long time because of the quality and care put into the manufacturing process. We base our business around a quality policy to satisfy customers, comply with quality system requirements, and continue to improve–which means that we guarantee you’ll have a pleasant and successful buying process when you purchase biosafety equipment from our company. NuAire uses a quality system structured to ISO 9001 and ISO 13485 requirements, which means we meet the internationally-accepted standards of performance for biosafety products and will deliver high-quality, reliable, and long-lasting equipment time after time.


Why You Should Never Cover the Airflow Grill on a Biosafety Cabinet

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Never Block the Airflow Grill

The front airflow grill on a biological safety cabinet performs the important job of separating the clean air inside the cabinet from the contaminated laboratory air outside. The front grill reduces the risk of contaminants entering the sterile work zone and disrupting the experiment inside, and they should never be covered.

Front Airflow Grill Smoke Flow Example

Smoke displays the vacuum created at the front of the cabinet by the front airflow grill.

Particular care must be taken to avoid covering the front grill, which is located beneath the window sash that separates the laboratory worker from the cabinet contents. This grill can easily be blocked by hands, arms, consumables, or laboratory equipment.

Blocking the front airflow grill on a biosafety cabinet raises the risk of the experiment inside being ruined by contaminants from outside and presents the possibility of substances inside the cabinet leaking out into the laboratory. This could present a substantial risk to the safety of laboratory workers and the local environment, particularly if the person using the cabinet is working with infectious materials.

When working in a Nuaire biosafety cabinet, always place items at least 4 inches from the front of the cabinet so that they do not block the airflow from the grill. Place bulky items to the side of the cabinet, where they will be less disruptive to the airflow.

Smoke Downflow Example

Smoke is used to display a biosafety cabinet’s laminar air downflow.

Even body parts such as arms, elbows, and hands can cover the airflow grill. Experimenters should avoid resting any parts of their bodies on the grill. The best practice is to move hands slowly in and out of the cabinet perpendicular to the front grill, rather than sweeping an arm across the grill, to minimize disruption of the air flow. Operators should organize the workspace inside the cabinet to minimize the movements they have to make with their arms.

Try a large or small elbow rest to keep your elbows and forearms off the airflow grill.

Following these tips when working with a Nuaire biosafety cabinet enables everyone in the laboratory to safely carry out experiments and avoid compromising results. To maintain a good safety record within the lab, make sure every laboratory worker is briefed on how to safely use a biosafety cabinet without covering the airflow grill.

Cytotoxic Biosafety Cabinet Operating Sequence

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View the Cytotoxic Class II, Type A2 Biological Safety Cabinet Operating Sequence presentation from NuAire

An easy to understand presentation on the proper procedures to take when operating a Cytotoxic Biological Safety Cabinet from start-up to shutdown.

Working with Hazardous Drugs and in the market for a Class II Biosafety Cabinet? Check out our CellGard ES NU-481 Class II, Type A2 Biological Safety Cabinet here.