Biosafety Guidelines for Handling Microorganisms in the Teaching Laboratory: Development and Rationale

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    Authors: Elizabeth A. B. Emmert1, the ASM Task Committee on Laboratory Biosafety1
    Affiliations: 1: Department of Biological Sciences, Salisbury University, Salisbury, MD 21801
    • Published 06 May 2013
    • Supplemental materials available at http://jmbe.asm.org
    • Corresponding author. Mailing address: Department of Biological Sciences, Salisbury University, 1101 Camden Avenue, Salisbury, MD 21801. Phone: 410-543-6363. Fax: 410-543-6433. E-mail: eaemmert@salisbury.edu.
    • ©2013 Author(s). Published by the American Society for Microbiology.
    Source: J. Microbiol. Biol. Educ. May 2013 vol. 14 no. 1 78-83. doi:10.1128/jmbe.v14i1.531


    The safe handling of microorganisms in the teaching laboratory is a top priority. However, in the absence of a standard set of biosafety guidelines tailored to the teaching laboratory, individual educators and institutions have been left to develop their own plans. This has resulted in a lack of consistency, and differing levels of biosafety practices across institutions. Influenced by the lack of clear guidelines and a recent outbreak of infections that was traced back to teaching laboratory exposures, the Education Board of the American Society for Microbiology charged a task force to develop a uniform set of biosafety guidelines for working with microorganisms in the teaching laboratory. These guidelines represent best practices for safely handling microbes, based on the safety requirements found in the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC’s) Biosafety in Microbiological and Biomedical Laboratories (BMBL). Guidelines for safely handling microbes at both biosafety level 1 (BSL1) and biosafety level 2 (BSL2) were developed. The guidelines are brief by design for ease of use and are accompanied by an extensive appendix containing explanatory notes, sample documents, and additional resources. These guidelines provide educators with a clear and consistent way to safely work with microorganisms in the teaching laboratory.

References & Citations

1. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention2012Investigation update: human SalmonellaTyphimurium infections associated with exposure to clinical and teaching microbiology laboratoriesCenters for Disease Control and PreventionAtlanta, GAhttp://www.cdc.gov/salmonella/typhimurium-laboratory/011712/.
2. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention2009Section IV—Laboratory Biosafety Level Criteria3059Biosafety in microbiological and biomedical laboratories5th edU.S. Department of Health and Human ServicesWashington, D.Chttp://www.cdc.gov/biosafety/publications/bmbl5/.
3. Harding L, Byers KB2006Epidemiology of laboratory-associated infections5377 Fleming DO, Hunt DLBiological safety: principles and practices4th edASM PressWashington, DC
4. Woolverton CJTeaching Laboratories Gentry-Weeks C, Ellis R, Wooley DBiological safety: principles and practices5th edin pressASM PressWashington, DC

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