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Three Ways to Determine What Biological Safety Cabinet Your Lab Needs

Understanding the types of samples being handled will determine the type of BSC required

by Lab Manager
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Maintenance Tip: Biological Safety Cabinets

All maintenance, including certification and repair, must be done by a qualified technician familiar with the proper maintenance procedures required for the lab’s BSC. When a BSC cannot reach proper airflow, it usually means the HEPA filters need replacing. Other signs it’s time to do BSC maintenance are also fairly easy to spot, such as fluorescent lamp bulbs burning out or the blower motor failing to run. Users should also set up standard operating procedures for cleaning their BSC to avoid damage caused by disinfectants that use chlorides or halogens.

Why is it important to be mindful of your sample types before purchasing a BSC?

Understanding the types of samples being handled will determine the type of BSC required. BSCs come in three main categories, Classes I, II, and III, with appropriate sub categories for each. The BSL rating of the samples, the type of reagents and processes used, and the level of contamination protection required for the samples will impact which BSC will be the best fit.

In what situations is a laminar flow hood sufficient?

If the type of sample being worked with is not a biohazard or chemical hazard, a laminar flow hood may be sufficient for the lab. Laminar flow hoods offer protection to the samples themselves, but will return air back from the fume hood. This can potentially be harmful to the operator and the environment if working with hazardous biological or chemical materials.

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How will certain chemicals influence the design of the BSC?

The style and build of a BSC can be directly influenced by sample type, processes, and reagents used in the BSC. For instance, if perchloric acid is used, then a wash-down system must be utilized in order to prevent perchloric salts (an explosion hazard) from forming. Also, if the work requires flammable liquids, chemicals, isotopes, or radionuclides, this may necessitate a hard ducted system to ensure operator safety.

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