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Biological Safety

The fundamental objective of the biosafety program at Saint Louis University is the containment of potentially harmful biological agents.

A risk assessment of the work to be done with a specific biological material will help determine the appropriate containment level for your work. Let us know if we can help with your risk assessment or with any other biosafety matters. The following helpful links are provided.

High Containment and Special Projects

Please contact the biological safety officer with any questions regarding high containment matters, including work with select agents, dual use research of concern (DURC), import and export issues, permits and inspections. The following links may be helpful:

Minimum Training and Experience Requirements for BSL-3/ABSL-3 Work with SARS-CoV-2 and Other High Risk Pathogens
Federal Select Agent Program
Dual Use Research of Concern

DHHS-CDC Import Permit Program

USDA-APHIS Import/Export Permit Program


Having knowledge of basic containment principles and hazard control methods is critical during hazard risk assessment and developing mitigation strategies to safely work with the hazard.  The following are useful containment and hazard control principles to remember as you plan your work with biohazard materials in the lab.

Elimination or Substitution

Use of an attenuated strain of a pathogenic virus is a good example of substitution to reduce the hazard risk associated with experiments using viruses with increased virulence.

Engineering Controls

Engineering controls are equipment that eliminate or reduce risks. Using a biological safety cabinet for procedures where splashes and aerosols are anticipated, sharps safety devices, and sealed safety centrifuge cups are just a few examples of effective engineering controls.

Administrative Controls and Good Work Practices

Establishing and following Standard Operating Procedures for work with hazardous materials is critical. Examples of good work practices include safely donning and doffing PPE, hand washing after removing disposable gloves, and practicing sharps safety.


Personal protective equipment provides barrier protection for the worker with direct hazard contact. Examples of PPE may include disposable gloves, lab coat, protective eye wear, and a respirator for inhalation hazards.

Use and Certification of Biological Safety Cabinets

A biological safety cabinet is a primary engineering control for use during procedures with a potential for creating infectious aerosols or splashes. These may include pipetting, centrifuging, grinding, blending, shaking, mixing, sonicating, opening containers of infectious materials, inoculating animals, harvesting infected tissues from animals or similar procedures.

The majority of BSCs on campus are 100 percent recirculating, Class II, Type A1 or A2 BSCs. This BSC recirculates a portion of the HEPA-filtered air back into the laboratory. Therefore, it is critical that the BSC is tested and certified at least annually and operated according to manufacturer’s recommendations to assure that infectious aerosols are not released back into the open laboratory, increasing the risks of occupational exposure to lab personnel.

Request Certification of Biological Safety Cabinet

Certification of biological safety cabinets at Saint Louis University is provided by Midwest Mechanical. To have your biological safety cabinet certified, contact Jeff Stiening at 618-401-3807 or

Biohazard Signage

A sign incorporating the universal biohazard symbol must be posted at the entrance to the laboratory when infectious agents are present.  Posted information must include:  the lab’s biosafety level, biological agent(s), the PI’s name (or other responsible personnel), telephone number, and required procedures for entering and exiting the laboratory.  If your lab requires a new biohazard sign or if updates are needed, please request to have your signage updated using the link below. Request updated biohazard signage by emailing