Hello again. It’s your friendly neighborhood lab coordinator! Today we are going to talk about biohazards in the lab and how to handle them properly.
What is a biohazard?
Biohazards are biological agents or materials that are a hazard to humans or the environment (Merriam Webster, 2017). ASU defines the applicability of biohazard materials to select agents and toxins regulated by the CDC, recombinant or synthetic nucleic acid molecules, bacterial, viral, fungal, parasitic, or other potentially infectious agents, experimentally infected animals, human blood, cell lines or any other human originated material, and infectious waste (EHS 112). Basically, any material that we work with in the lab that isn’t a chemical is potentially a biohazard. Our lab specific biohazards include algae biomass, soil bacteria and materials containing soil bacteria, petri dishes and slants containing cultured bacteria, sludge and materials from the waste water treatment plant, human fecal matter samples, etc. Any material that these agents have come in contact with may also be considered biohazardous material (pipet tips, gloves, centrifuge tubes, etc.).
How do we dispose of biohazards?
Please place all biohazards into red bins that are located around the lab. If possible, keep lids on large bin containers. Pipet tips should be going into pipet waste buckets, lined with biohazard bags. When full, remove the bag out of the bucket, close the bag with a knot or twist tie and place into a large biohazard bag for disposal. Gloves and centrifuge tubes should also go into biohazard bins. NO GLOVES IN REGULAR TRASH! Because we are a Biosafety Level 2 lab, waste management assumes that all lab materials, such as gloves, in regular trash are contaminated and will not take them. Avoid dumping liquid into biohazard bags, including volumes of liquid in closed centrifuge tubes.
So where do my tips go?
Let’s Talk About Sharps!
Place all needles and razor blades in the sharps containers. DO NOT RECAP NEEDLES! When sharps begin to reach the top of the clear plastic lid, it is time to dispose of the container and start a new one. EH&S has 2 special videos they would like everyone to watch on this subject!
We are responsible for disposing of our own biohazards! Waste management does NOT pick up red bins and bags. When your red bin is full, take the bag out of the bin, close the bag by either tying the ends, or wrapping the ends with a twist tie. Please autoclave your red bag in secondary containment using a gravity cycle of at least 20 minutes at 121C. Take the bag out of the autoclave, and place in the red drums found in the autoclave rooms. Sharps should also be autoclaved. Place in the bottom of the red drums found in the autoclave rooms afterward (updated 9/26/17). New red biohazard bags in various sizes are located inside the door of A207 and A107. New sharps containers and lids are found in the cabinet just inside the door of A207.