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Biosafety Levels and its Importance
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On the basis of the health and environmental risk associated with biological agent, the biosafety levels are classified. Today various labs, research centers and institutes working with these agents are assigned with a corresponding containment level. In pharmaceutical industries and research Centre levels of biosafety are considered because of the need to experiment with live bacteria and viruses, in such industries, vaccines and other biological products are developed. Example is influenza virus which is considered at higher safety level. Knowledge of such bio safety level makes people aware of the associated risk.

Biosafety Level 1 (BL1)
BL1 includes biological agents that present a low risk to personnel and the area; environment. Examples of BL1 agents are Agrobacterium radiobacter, Bacillus thuringiensis, , Aspergillus niger, Escherichia coli strain K12, Micrococcus leuteus, , Lactobacillus acidophilus, Neurospora crassa, Serratia marcescens , and Pseudomonas fluorescens.
Basic precautions are required in case of A BL1 containment laboratory. Work may be done in fume hood, on open bench tops. When working in such laboratory, standard microbiological safety practices are used. Washing hands with anti-bacterial soap and disinfecting all exposed surfaces in the lab while using cell and bacterial cultures. Autoclave of material used for cultures can be safe practices. Gloves and face masks may also be recommended.

Every BL1 lab staff need to be trained on the procedures and be supervised by a senior or scientists with general training in microbiology and safe practices.

Biosafety Level 2 (BL2)
A BL2 biological agent presents a moderate risk to personnel and also to the environment. Best examples of biosafety level 2 are Mycobacterium, Salmonella choleraeusis and Streptococcus pneumonia. These organism exist a moderate risk to personnel handling them and to the environment. In case the accident happens and the person is exposed to this laboratory BL2 microorganism, there is little risk of it spreading and also the risk of infection is low.

Access to a BL2 laboratory is restricted so that the safety level of personnel is maintained even though the person is not aware of it. There are autoclaves in such laboratories to decontaminate biological waste material and also the use of biological safety cabinet is important to avoid exposure of BL2 microorganisms. The use of personal protective equipment that is Coats, gloves and face masks is mandatory in such laboratories. Trained persons and scientist supervise such laboratory work in order to maintain the safety of people and environment.

Biosafety Level 3 (BL3)
BL3 biological agents are organism which can cause serious diseases in humans, animals and also in plated whenever they are exposed. Examples of microorganism in this classification are Leishmania donovani, Mycobacterium tuberculosis, Francisella tularensis, Bacillus anthracis, West Nile Virus , Chlamydia psittaci, Venezuelan equine encephalitis virus,SARS coronavirus, , Eastern equine encephalitis virus, Salmonella typhi, Rift Valley fever virus, Coxiella burnetii and Rickettsia rickettsii.
BL3 agents also include those that could cause serious financial loss in terms of their spread in the environment and going forward in various continents. BL3 containment labs must strictly adhere to safety practices and employ safety equipment and facilities that are appropriate when working with such biological and other BL3 agents. Not only the precautions are important but also the treatments are essential in case of exposure to these agents. Research working with the deadly viruses and other like H5N1 virus, for example, must be performed in a BL3 containment lab. All the staff must be trained on safe practices of laboratories, handling of microorganism and other biological generations. The handling of potential pathogens is critical and training in this case can give an extra knowledge and awareness of it. The biological safety cabinets are essential in such labs and the risk to personnel is thus minimized during the period in which they handle these agents.

Biosafety Level 4 (BL4)
BL4 biological agents can cause serious or lethal diseases in humans, animals and plants that are untreatable. Examples of biosafety level 4 are Marburg virus, Bolivian and Argentine hemorrhagic fevers, Ebola virus, Crimean-Congo hemorrhagic fever, Lassa virus, smallpox, and other viruses which causes hemorrhagic diseases. Infection with these agents can produce lethal disease which can even cause death if not treated immediately. Another danger of these agents is that they can be easily transmitted from one individual to another. Also there is a chance of cross contamination that is from animals to humans and also vice-versa. The transmission can take place with contact or even through air which is lethal.

Such facilities are controlled and isolated form other working area to avoid contamination. Such facilities are often maintained in negative pressure to avoid contamination through an aerosol.
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I never understand these biosafety levels they are always an annoying thing for me, any ways this article is quite easy and some of these are understood by me now.
Supported living Australia
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(05-16-2013, 02:15 AM)TobyForbes Wrote: I never understand these biosafety levels they are always an annoying thing for me, any ways this article is quite easy and some of these are understood by me now.

Dear TobyForbes,....Thanks.

Biosafety is important not only for the safety of personnel (esp. Microbiologist) working in that area but also for keeping our environment safe.
Restricted area (As per bio-safety levels) helps to avoid the spread of lethal pathogens. To understand lethal pathogens and to develop new technologies, we need to handle them but defining (biosafety levels) and implementing "good safety practices" protect everyone !
Thanks TobyForbes for appreciation !
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There are different biosafety level requirements in laboratories for specific control on the spread of harmful biological agents and for safety precautions to be observed in particular during experiments. Such are enclosed facilities used for isolation and biocontainment preventions.

It is interesting to know that the first ever biosafety cabinet was invented by Hubert Kaempf Jr. in 1943 who was, at that time, a United States Army soldier. He was under Director Dr. Arnold G. Wedum and they had their experiments in the United States Army Biological Warfare Laboratory, located in Camp Detrick, Maryland. Kaempf later transferred to H.K. Ferguson Co., a sheet metal department.

As a result, several meetings and conferences were conducted as the years went by. In 1964, such gatherings were held in government installations, which were surprisingly not related to any biological warfare program. For the next decade, federal agencies which conducted and sponsored research about pathogenic microbes were invited, and soon had their representatives attend the conferences. Eventually, industrial complexes, hospitals, private laboratories, and universities joined in.

In 1983, a formal organization was created, named the American Biological Safety Associated (ABSA), which was established officially the year after, together with their constitution and bylaws. In 2008, there were a total of 1,600 members affiliated to the organization.

Classifying a microorganism or procedure in biosafety level is determined by its primary risks, which includes infectivity, transmissibility, severity of the disease, and the nature of the work conducted.

For the purpose of specific containment controls, there are three major requirements for each biosafety level. According to the Center of Disease and Control (CDC) these are:
a. Laboratory practices
b. Safety equipment
c. Facility construction

The biosafety level 4 laboratories are the fewest among the three others as these are the facilities where the highest risk of microbe infectivity experiments is done. Worldwide, there are less than a hundred BL-4 labs while a few thousands of BL-3s. Most of these labs are found in the United States and Europe.
Lyka Candelario, RN
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