Safety, Risk and Sustainability

Health and Safety

Biohazard Control Program Including Biohazardous Waste

This document is a quick reference guide for those working with biohazardous materials. The CSUMB Biohazard Control Program is based on the California Health and Safety Code Sections 117600-118360 and the CDC/NIH Guidelines for Biosafety in Microbiological and Biomedical Laboratories 5th edition (2007) or most current edition. The guidelines indicate the Biosafety Level (BSL) for each microbial agent; the levels range from 1-4. The Biosafety Level dictates the method of disposal, use of certain lab practices, techniques, safety equipment and facilities. BSL-1 organisms normally do not cause disease in healthy humans (e.g. Penicillium); BSL-2 agents are associated with human disease (e.g. Cryptococcus neoformans, Shigella, any human body fluid, etc.); BSL-3 agents may cause serious or possibly lethal disease, with a potential for aerosol transmission (e.g. HIV, Yellow fever virus, etc.); BSL-4 agents pose a high risk of aerosol transmitted laboratory infections and life-threatening disease (e.g. Ebola virus). Please note that Level 4 organisms are not permitted in the University, and Level 3 organisms may not be brought onto College property without prior written permission from the Dean of the College of Science and CSUMB’s Biosafety Officer. The CDC/NIH Guidelines are available for review in the AEHS office and are available on-line.

Safe Work Practices

The safe work practices listed below must be consistently followed to reduce the likelihood of exposure when using biohazardous agents:

Avoid hand to face contact, and don't use sharp items (needles, razor blades etc.) unless you must.

Handle needles and sharps (pasteur pipets, slides, capillary tubes, broken glass, etc.) carefully.

Use engineered sharps protection (needle with protective device attached) when drawing human blood.

Dispose of sharp items in red ("medical waste") needle boxes if the sharps are biohazardous, contaminated with human blood or blood products, or were used in research involving the treatment or immunization of human beings or animals. Contact the CSUMB AEHS Office to obtain sharps containers and to arrange for container disposal.

Use rigid plastic disposal containers for sharps; never use bags.

Never bend or break needles.

Never recap needles if at all possible; store syringe needle side down in test tube instead. If you must recap the needle, place cap in a container (ex. styrofoam), open end up, then with ONE HAND place the needle into the cap. NEVER use two hands to recap, you might stick yourself!

Wash hands after handling biohazardous materials, even when gloves were worn.

Develop and use a method of decontamination based on surfaces and type of contamination e.g. wipe bench tops down before and after use with a fresh 5 - 10% solution of bleach.

Employ Universal Precautions: treat all human body fluids as infectious for HIV (see "Special Biohazards" for more information).

Other potentially infection material can include other bodily fluids, tissues, and human-derived cultures. Workers in many different job functions may be at risk for occupational exposure while performing their regular duties.

Engineering Controls

Engineering controls must be used whenever appropriate; examples include biological cabinets, mechanical barriers, needle boxes, engineered sharps protection on needles etc. If a biological cabinet is required per the CDC/NIH guidelines, it must be certified according to OSHA's Title 8, CCR 5154.1(a).

Personal Protective Equipment

Ensure that everyone concerned uses personal protective equipment (PPE) when needed to avoid exposure from contact with infectious materials. The PPE must be appropriate and fit properly; consider:

types of fluid or tissue involved

potential exposure concentration

probable route of exposure e.g. eyes via splash; if the potential for a splash to the eye exists, properly fitting and fully enclosed, indirect vented chemical splash goggles must be worn

working conditions e.g. aerosol production might require biological cabinet use.

Biohazardous Waste

Biohazardous medical waste produced in a teaching or research lab cannot legally be treated and disposed of as regular trash on the premises. The waste shall be placed in a leak-proof container that is double-lined with red biohazard bags. CSUMB will provide the container and bags. Call the CSUMB Biosafety Officer (x4630) for the appropriate container.

Biohazardous waste as defined in the California Health and Safety Code section 117635 is:

Laboratory waste, including, but not limited to, the following: Cultures and stocks of infectious agents from research and industrial laboratories. Wastes from the production of bacteria, viruses, spores... and [contaminated] culture dishes and devices used to transfer, inoculate, and mix cultures.

These regulations define "infectious agents" to include any microorganism, bacteria, mold, parasite, or virus, including, but not limited to, organisms managed as Biosafety Level 2 (BSL2), 3 or 4. Remember; NEVER put sharps in trash bags of any kind; always use rigid containers such as cardboard containers or the free sharps containers provided by the CUMB Safety Office (x4630).


Housekeeping is another important issue for biohazard areas - keep your area clean. OSHA's general sanitation laws in Title 8, section 3362, state that the workplace must be clean and sanitary, and be in a condition not liable to give rise to harmful exposure. Make sure corridors and eyewash/shower units are not blocked.

Special Biohazards

Medical Waste

If you or those you supervise work with human blood, human tissues or human blood-derived products, you produce medical waste. This includes culture of most human cell lines. Medical waste may NOT be autoclaved and/or disposed of on campus property. The regulations for the collection and disposal of medical waste are quite stringent. Please call the Biosafety Officer immediately (x4630) if you think you might generate medical waste. We will set up your program for you, and supply you with all the necessary information and free medical waste bags, collection containers, etc. We will also coordinate the waste pick-up and disposal for you.

Bloodborne Pathogens

If you or those you supervise (including students) work with any human tissue or fluid - except urine, saliva or cheek cells - your work is regulated by the Cal/OSHA bloodborne pathogen standard. Improper handling could result in fines. Please call the Biosafety Officer immediately (x4630) if you think your work might fall under the bloodborne pathogen standard.

Recombinant DNA

As Defined by NIH

You must obtain approval from the Institutional Biosafety Committee prior to beginning a project involving recombinant DNA. Please submit the appropriate application, available from the Office of Research and Sponsored Programs.