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The Center for Disease Control (CDC) in conjunction with the National Institutes of Health (NIH) has defined four biosafety levels, BSL-1 through BSL-4 (see: Biosafety in Microbiological and Biomedical Laboratories in reference materials). Within each level, laboratory practices and techniques, laboratory facilities and engineering controls have been recommended for the handling of hazards imposed by the infectious organisms within each biosafety level. The following is a summary of recommended biosafety levels for infectious agents.
Biosafety level 1 agents are not known to consistently cause disease in healthy adults.
Examples: Bacillus subtilis, Naegleria gruberi, canine hepatitis.
Follow standard microbiological safety practices.
No safety equipment is required.
An open bench top and sink are required.
Biosafety level 2 agents are associated with human disease. Hazards are percutaneous injury, ingestion, mucous membrane exposure.
Examples: HIV, hepatitis B, salmonellae, toxoplasma.
Follow biosafety level 1 practices, plus:
Use a physical containment device that is approved for all manipulations of agents that cause splashes or aerosols of infectious materials.
Primary barriers are Class I or Class II biological safety cabinets, or other physical containment devices used for all manipulations of agents that cause splashes or aerosols of infectious materials. Personnel protective equipment includes lab coats, gloves, and face protection as needed.
An open bench top, sink, and autoclave must be available.
Biosafety level 3 agents are indigenous or exotic agents with the potential for aerosol transmission. Disease may have serious or lethal consequences.
Examples: St Louis encephalitis virus, Coxiella burnetii, Mycobacterium tuberculosis.
Follow biosafety level 2 practices, plus:
Primary barriers are Class I or Class II biological safety cabinets or other physical containment devices, used for all open manipulations of agents. Personnel protective equipment (PPE) includes protective lab clothing, gloves, and respiratory protection as needed.
Follow Biosafety Level 2 precautions and:
Biosafety level 4 agents are dangerous/exotic agents which pose high risk of life-threatening disease, aerosol-transmitted lab infections or related agents with unknown risk of transmission.
Examples: Lassa fever virus, Marburg or Congo-Crimean hemorrhagic fever.
Follow biosafety level 3 practices, plus:
Primary barriers: All procedures are conducted in Class III biological safety glove boxes OR use a full-body, air-supplied, positive pressure personnel suit, in combination with Class I or Class II BSCs.
Follow Biosafety Level 3 precautions and:
Find the appropriate Bio-safety level in your search results, and then refer to the Bio safety level tabs (at left) for more information. What number should I look for?
Enter any name of agent (genus, species, viral group, virus name):