Common Sources of BSC Contamination to Watch Out For

Routine cleaning of your biological safety cabinet (BSC) is necessary to decrease the risk of contamination and to maintain a sterile research environment. Contaminants can include bacteria, mold, or viruses that build up overtime when air continuously runs through your BSC filters. Some sources of contamination can be prevented and managed through regular basic cleaning and maintaining a clean work environment, while other circumstances require gas decontamination to ensure the integrity of experiments.
Sources of Contamination

Often, BSC contamination is preventable and stems from poor procedures, lack of training among laboratory personnel, or poorly designed spaces. Some examples of common sources of contamination include:

  • Spills
  • Mislabeled materials
  • Cross-contamination
  • Poor cell culture management
  • Dirty work environment
  • Unclean lab coat, hands, or gloves
Contaminants like these can result in a buildup of debris in a BSC's internal parts, pre-filter, HEPA filter, and especially under the work tray, among other components. To decrease the risk of contamination, it is important to incorporate regular cleaning procedures into your SOPs such as cleaning work surfaces before and after use, ensuring proper setup, and avoiding clutter. Additionally, all laboratory personnel must wash their hands and use a clean lab coat and gloves prior to working with the BSC. Depending on the nature of your organization's research, you may need to adjust your cleaning schedule to best meet your site's needs--for example, if you work with animals you should plan to disinfect your BSC more frequently.
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When Is Gas Decontamination Necessary?

Although many contaminants can be prevented through regular cleaning, there are circumstances under which a full gas decontamination of your BSC is required. If you are relocating, disposing of, or salvaging a BSC, it is important to complete a gas decontamination to prevent any contamination coming out while it is being moved. Additionally, decontamination is necessary after a large spill that cannot be managed by regular cleaning, as well as prior to maintenance, filter changes, or performance tests. Gas decontamination should not be completed by lab personnel, rather by a specialist with the proper PPE, training, and expertise to perform the decontamination safely and effectively.

Triumvirate Environmental's approach to gas decontamination uses chlorine dioxide, a validated and  approved solution by NSF/ANSI Standard 49. Chlorine dioxide is a "true gas," which eliminates any condensation issues. Our team of experts will assess your BSC to identify materials used inside to ensure that our method of decontamination will be effective, fast, and safe. To learn more about Triumvirate Environmental's BSC decontamination and certification services, click below to view our on-demand webinar, Biological Safety Cabinets: Compliance, Decontamination & Certification, or call us at 617-715-9055 to schedule a BSC maintenance routine.

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