1.0 Introduction

Laboratories handling biohazardous agents are special, often unique, environments that may pose an infectious disease risk to persons in or near them.  Fewer than 20 percent of all cases of laboratory-acquired infections are associated with a known incident.  Exposure to infectious aerosols is a plausible, but usually unconfirmed, source of infection.  The knowledge, techniques and equipment needed to prevent most laboratory-acquired infections are readily available.  This publication was prepared as an aid to researchers to prevent the infection of laboratory workers and ancillary personnel.  It serves as the written Biological Safety Program for facilities at The University of Iowa.  All personnel engaged in the use of infectious or hazardous biological (biohazardous) agents must participate in this program. 

The goal of the University's Biological Safety Program is to protect staff, students and the environment from exposure to biohazardous agents, as well as the protection of experimental materials.  Prior to removal from the clinical or research laboratory area, biohazardous/infectious wastes must be properly packaged and labeled for subsequent decontamination and disposal.  The responsibility for identifying and disposing of biohazardous materials rests with the PI’s (principal investigators) or laboratory supervisors.  This responsibility cannot be shifted to inexperienced or untrained personnel. 

Principal investigators or laboratory supervisors should call the Biological Safety Section of EHS (Environmental Health & Safety Office) at 335-8501, if there is uncertainty about categorizing, handling, storing, treating, or discarding biologically derived material.