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Biological Safety

The fundamental objective of the Saint Louis University biosafety program is to ensure the safety of SLU's researchers, the community, and the environment when conducting research with potentially harmful biological agents.

The biosafety team at Environmental Health and Safety works with the SLU Institutional Biosafety Committee (IBC) to provide advice and oversight of research conducted with biological agents. Information on the IBC, required training, and preparation of biosafety protocols for review by the IBC can be found here.

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

Biosafety in Microbiological and Biomedical Laboratories (BMBL)

Exposure Control Plan (PDF)

Institutional Biosafety Committee (IBC)

Biological Waste Removal

Biosafety Inspection Form (PDF)

OSHA Bloodborne Pathogens Standard

Human Cell Line Policy (PDF)


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 High Risk Pathogens (PDF)

Federal Select Agent Program

Dual Use Research of Concern

DHHS-CDC Import Permit Program

USDA-APHIS Import/Export Permit Program


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

Elimination or Substitution

Using 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 devices 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, handwashing after removing disposable gloves and practicing sharps safety.

Personal Protective Equipment

Personal protective equipment (PPE) provides barrier protection for workers with direct hazard contact. Examples of PPE may include disposable gloves, lab coats, protective eyewear, and a respirator for inhalation hazards.

Use and Certification of Biological Safety Cabinets

A biological safety cabinet (BSC) is a primary engineering control that is used during procedures with the 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.

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

Midwest Mechanical provides certification of biological safety cabinets at Saint Louis University. 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, the PI’s name (or other responsible personnel), after-hours emergency telephone number, and required procedures for entering and exiting the laboratory.

If emergency contact or hazard information for your laboratory has changed, request to have your laboratory signage updated. If you have any questions or have technical issues submitting the form, email

Request Updated Hazard Signage