The University of Iowa

Biosafety Cabinet FAQ's

All BSC service appointments should be scheduled with the UI contracted vendor, TSS.

To contact TSS for a quote and scheduling please contact Gregg Froebe by email or by phone: 913-428-2746.

For general questions related to your biosafety cabinet you may contact EHS by emailing

Upon completion of work, lab staff should decontaminate the interior surfaces of the cabinet by wiping down all accessible surfaces with an appropriate disinfectant. Additionally, monthly or as needed, lab staff should remove the cabinet work surface to access and surface disinfect the lower plenum (a.k.a. drain pan). These surface decontaminations are needed for proper maintenance of your cabinet and are the responsibility of lab staff.

The decontamination service provided by our supplier involves decontaminating the entire interior of the cabinet (including the blower/motor and HEPA filters) by fumigation with vaporized hydrogen peroxide. This decontamination service is required prior to repairs in which service personnel must access potentially contaminated areas of the cabinet (i.e. HEPA filter or motor/blower replacement). Additionally, this type of decontamination is required prior to cabinet relocation to ensure biohazardous material is not released during transportation. This service does not include cleaning of the cabinet interior surfaces.  As indicated above, lab staff are responsible for routine surface cleaning/disinfection. 

Cabinets must be decontaminated before they are moved, and certified after they are in place.  Labs are responsible for arranging decontamination services with one of our suppliers (contact info listed above).

 Facilities Management is no longer providing biosafety cabinet moving services on campus. Carver College of Medicine (CCOM) laboratories may contact Wes Sotzen or Scott Klemp for assistance in moving biosafety cabinets. Non-CCOM laboratories may contact any University of Iowa contracted mover for a quote and moving services. 

Facilities Management should be contacted to hook up gas or vacuum lines to your cabinet. Remember—if you use a burner in your cabinet, you must use a touch-plate burner or micro-incinerator. 

Your cabinet must be certified at least annually. For more information, please visit the Institutional Biosafety Committee’s BSC policy.

Yes. If you are using your biosafety cabinet (it is turned on and/or there are materials in the work space), your cabinet must be certified at least annually. If you are not using your cabinet at all, it must be marked with an “inactive” sticker by EHS. Contact EHS Biosafety staff at to obtain a sticker.

Parts can be disposed of in the normal waste stream. For disposal of large parts, you should speak with your area’s custodial supervisor to arrange pickup. If you do not know your area’s custodial supervisor, speak with your Department’s program assistant for assistance.

In some cabinets, the sash must be completely closed to operate the UV light, thus providing protection of personnel. Check the function of the UV light with the sash fully closed. Although EHS can order a UV bulb from the manufacturer, a bulb with the same wattage and of the same size can be purchased from local vendors for a fraction of the cost. Check your bulb to record the relevant info (eg.T-8, 25W,) before you visit a local home improvement or electrical supply store to ensure you purchase the correct product.

Always check the life expectancy of the bulb to determine when you should replace the bulb—this is usually long before the bulb dies. Bulbs can continue working for months or years after they stop providing the necessary wattage for disinfection purposes.  In addition, dust gathering on the bulb will affect the disinfection efficacy. For these reasons, EHS does not recommend use of the UV light for disinfection purposes.

To expedite the process of purchasing and receiving a BSC, contact EHS to discuss the purchase with biosafety staff. They will ask questions about the product you wish to purchase and the type of work you will be doing in the cabinet. When you have a delivery date or tracking number, notify one of the suppliers as soon as possible so that they can arrange to have a technician available to certify your cabinet. When the cabinet arrives, make sure it is located in the exact place it will be used and that all of the packing materials are removed (including those on the top of the cabinet). Ensure no one uses the cabinet until it has been certified for use.

This depends. If the room is small, the technician may not have enough room to work comfortably and safely without disturbing your work. You should also consider that movement in the room can disrupt the sterile barrier that is created in the BSC you are working in. For the safety of personnel as well as the integrity of the product you are working with in the BSC, it is always best to avoid working in the area while the technician is present. However, if you are in a large open laboratory and the BSCs are separated by a large distance, it is possible to work in one BSC while a technician works on another.