Biological Safety Hazards

Protect Your Eyes and Your Whole Body at Work through Knowing all about Biological Safety Hazards

Safety hazards are potential sources of harm or injury to a person. There are a number of kinds of safety hazards. One is biological safety hazards. A biological safety hazard is any biological substance that can harm living things, particularly, humans. They are also sometimes called biohazards. The term, including its symbol is also used by companies and manufacturers as a precaution to people who use materials like syringes and needles, and other biological instruments.

There is a wide range of objects that can be classified as biological safety hazards. These can include viruses, toxins or bacteria. Medical wastes that pose a threat to human health are also included.

When transporting bio hazardous materials, they are classified first by UN numbers. The biohazard belongs to category A with UN 2814 if the substance can cause fatality or permanent disability to both humans and animals. Others can be classified into category B with UN 2900 if the materials can only affect animals but can do no permanent damage or fatality. Biohazards are classified into category B with UN 3373 if they are transported for diagnostic purposes only. And lastly, materials are considered as regulated medical wastes (with UN 391) if they are wastes or derivatives from medical treatments, researches, or production of biological products.

Aside from transportation precautions, United States’ Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has also designed 4 categories assessing the level of various diseases’ harmful risks to human health. Level 1 biohazards have minimum risk while Level 4 biohazards have the most extreme risk.

Bacteria and viruses belonging to Biohazard Level 1 include Escherichia coli, canine hepatitis, Bacillus subtilis, varicella or chicken pox, and other non-infectious bacteria. Precautions at this level include wearing gloves as well as facial protection.

In Biohazard Level 2, the bacteria and viruses included here are difficult to contract through the air in a lab setting and can only cause mild diseases. These include hepatitis A, B, and C, salmonella, measles, mumps, dengue fever, HIV, Lyme disease and influenza A.

For bacteria and viruses to be categorized in Biohazard Level 3, they should be able to give humans severe to fatal diseases. Also, there should be existing treatments like a vaccine for the said disease. The diseases include SARS virus, malaria, anthrax, Venezuelan equine encephalitis, West Nile virus, yellow fever, Rocky Mountain spotted fever, typhus, Rift Valley fever, and tuberculosis.

Biohazard Level 4, on the other hand, includes bacteria and viruses that can be fatal to humans and have no existing treatments. These are Marburg virus, Ebola virus, Bolivian and Argentine hemorrhagic fever, Lassa fever virus, Crimean-Congo hemorrhagic fevers, hantaviruses, and other hemorrhagic diseases. The infamous smallpox, or Variola virus, is also classified as biohazard level 4 despite its vaccine’s existence.

When dealing with biological safety hazards belonging to level 4, you need to have extreme precautions. Using a positive pressure personnel suit with its own air supply is mandatory. A level 4 laboratory must contain an autonomous detection system, a vacuum room, an ultraviolet light room, multiple showers and other things used to destroy biohazards.