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Chapter 5: Working in your Biological Safety Cabinet

Movement within the Cabinet

Good technique when working within the biological safety cabinet will minimize air turbulence and prevent splatter or unwanted spread of aerosols. These guidelines for good technique will maximize protection of personnel, product and environment.

Minimize Movement

The rapid movement of a worker's arms in a sweeping motion into and out of the cabinet will disrupt the air curtain and may compromise the partial barrier containment provided by the BSC. Moving arms in and out slowly, perpendicular to the face opening of the cabinet will reduce this risk. Other personnel activities in the room – like opening and closing doors – may also disrupt the cabinet air barrier.

Reduce Splatter

Many common procedures may create splatter or aerosols. Good microbiological techniques should always be used to minimize this potential. For example, techniques to reduce splatter and aerosol generation will minimize the potential for personnel exposure to infectious materials manipulated within the cabinet. Class II cabinets are designed so that horizontally nebulized spores will be captured by the downward flowing cabinet air within fourteen inches of travel.

Working with Equipment in the Cabinet

Working with additional equipment within the cabinet should also be thought through carefully. The middle third of the work surface is the ideal area to be used.

All operations should be performed at least 4 inches from the front grill on the work surface. Materials or equipment placed inside the cabinet may cause disruption to the airflow, resulting in turbulence, possible cross-contamination, and/or breach of containment.

Bulky items such as biohazard bags, discarded pipette trays and suction collection flasks should be placed to one side of the interior of the cabinet. Most procedures should not require use of a flame when combined with good aseptic technique and proper cabinet use. If a burner is required, use the on-demand type with an electronic ignition. Since a burner will produce air turbulence, place it to the rear of the workspace.

Use of Natural Gas/Bunsen Burner within a Biological Safety Cabinet Technical Paper

All materials should be placed as far back in the cabinet as practical, toward the rear edge of the work surface and away from the front grille of the cabinet.

Similarly, aerosol-generating equipment such as vortex mixers or centrifuges should be placed toward the rear of the cabinet to take advantage of the air split.

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