Incubator, Cold Room, and Biological Safety Cabinet Contamination

BSC DecontaminationPreventing and remediating contamination in incubators, cold rooms, and biological safety cabinets allows your organization to run a smoother operation, reduce equipment downtime, and create a safe, environmentally compliant, and healthy facility. Keep reading to learn how contamination in these places occurs, and how to remediate the situation and decontaminate the area when biological cleaning is necessary.


Keeping incubators free from debris buildup is vital to lab equipment safety. Debris in fans, leading to build up on sensors and gaskets, can cause contamination within an incubator. A bigger problem arises when basic surface cleaning and gas disinfection does not remove the build up, leading to contaminated laboratory equipment.

Incubator Decontamination

  • Procedure is make and model specific
  • Follow methods recommended by manufacturer
  • Manufacturer provides replacement parts kit (filters, gaskets, plugs, etc.)
  • Clean and/or replace removed parts including:
    • Shelves
    • Shelf supports
    • Plugs & grommets
    • Ducts
    • Humidity pan
    • Gaskets
    • Filters
    • Fans

Cold Rooms

Cardboard and other porous materials left in cold rooms, as well as condensation, can lead to mold growth, therefore contaminating a cold room.

Mold Remediation and Confirmation

  • Remove all cardboard and porous materials
  • Use a biological disinfectant (bleach) to clean all surfaces
  • Run HEPA filtered vacuum to capture airborne spores
  • Spore trap analysis
  • Surface wipe samples

Biological Safety Cabinets

Contamination in biosafety cabinets (BSCs) can occur when internal parts and HEPA filters become loaded with debris and basic cleaning does not remove this build up. This, in turn, leads to contaminated media and efforts need to be put in place to decontaminate the BSC.

When is BSC Decontamination Needed?

  • After large spills of chemicals or biological materials
  • Prior to any maintenance work, filter changes, and performance tests that require access to any contaminated portion of the BSC
  • Decommissioning, disposal, or salvage
  • If a new work program or production run is initiated
  • Relocation from one room/building to another

BSC Decontamination

  • BSCs are decontaminated per the National Sanitation Foundation (NSF)/American National Standards Institute (ANSI) 49 Standard for Biological Safety Cabinet Decontamination
  • Removing panels and removal of bulk materials and debris
  • BSC is sealed and a Mini Chlorine Dioxide System (MCS) is utilized to disinfect the cabinets

Mini Chlorine Dioxide System

  • Utilizes chlorine dioxide (CD) gas for biological decontamination per NSF/ANSI 49 – 2016
  • Fast and safe device for decontamination of BSCs
  • Built in charcoal gas-scrubbing unit allows technician to remove CD without external venting

Routine Maintenance

Prevent future incubator, cold room, and biosafety cabinet contamination by being proactive. To do so, set up a routine that includes a bi-annual full decontamination, full biological cleaning between operational changes, and full decontamination if contamination is identified.

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