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California State University, Long Beach
College of Natural Sciences and Mathematics

Biohazard Control Program Including Biohazardous Waste

The CNSM 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 6th edition (2020). 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, containment techniques, safety equipment and facilities.

  1. Agents handled at BSL-1 normally do not cause disease in healthy humans (e. g. Penicillium).
  2. Agents handled at BSL-2 are associated with human disease (e. g. Cryptococcus neoformans, Shigella, human body fluids, etc. ).
  3. Agents handle at BSL-3 may cause serious or possibly lethal disease, with a potential for aerosol transmission (e. g. HIV, yellow fever virus, etc.).
  4. Agents handled at BSL-4 pose a high risk of aerosol transmitted laboratory infections and life-threatening disease (e. g. Ebola virus).

The biosafety level required is based on the risk group into which the agent is assigned and how it will be handled. Please note that acquisition and use of biohazardous agents in CNSM requires written approval by the CNSM Biosafety Officer. CNSM has BSL-1 and BSL-2 laboratory facilities only. CNSM lacks the facility engineering controls required to operate a BSL-3 laboratory. The CDC/NIH Guidelines are available for review in the Science Safety Office (MIC-207) and are available online.

The purpose of the CDC/NIH Guidelines is to protect students, employees and the general public from exposure to biohazardous materials. If you work with biohazardous materials, you should ensure that everyone in your program is trained and that the CDC/NIH Guidelines will be observed as appropriate.

Safe Work Practices

The safe work practices listed below (sometimes referred to as administrative controls) must be consistently followed to reduce the likelihood of exposure when using biohazardous agents:

  • No eating, drinking, storage of food or beverages or applying cosmetics in the lab. Avoid hand to face contact.
  • Long hair is restrained so that it cannot contact hands, specimens, containers or equipment.
  • Don't use sharp items (Pasteur pipets, slides, capillary tubes, broken glass, etc.) unless you must. Handle all sharps carefully. See the CNSM Needle Handling Policy for more information.
  • Use engineered sharps protection (needle w/protective device attached) when drawing human blood.
  • Immediately dispose of sharp items in rigid, leak-proof, closeable containers specifically labeled for biohazards 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 suspected of carrying infectious agents. Contact the Science Safety Office (x55623) to obtain free sharps containers or to arrange for container disposal.
  • Sharps containers used for the collection of biohazards must be secured or kept in secondary containment that prevents tipping.
  • Never bend, break or shear needles. Never recap needles contaminated with biohazards.
  • Wash hands after handling biohazardous materials, even when gloves were worn. Wash hands again before leaving lab.
  • Always use mechanical pipetting, never mouth pipette.
  • Use procedures that minimize formation of splashes and aerosols. Conduct all procedures that may produce infectious aerosols inside a certified biosafety cabinet (BSC).
  • Develop and use a method of decontamination based on surfaces and type of contamination e. g. wipe benchtops down before and after use with a fresh 5-10% solution of bleach. Also decontaminate surfaces whenever contamination occurs or is suspected to have occurred.
  • Each lab using biohazards, recombinant materials, or other biological agents must prepare a laboratory-specific biosafety manual. Contact the Science Safety Office for assistance with getting one put together, many templates are available.
  • Employ Universal Precautions: treat all human body fluids as infectious for HIV (see "Special Biohazards" below for more information).

Engineering Controls

Engineering controls must be used whenever appropriate; examples include BSCs, sealed centrifuge rotor caps, mechanical barriers, sharps containers, engineered sharps protection on needles, etc. If a BSC 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 shield skin, clothing and mucous membranes from contact with infectious materials. The PPE (including eye protection) must be appropriate and fit properly; consider:

  • types of fluid or tissue involved.
  • potential exposure volume.
  • 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 will require BSC use.

Biohazardous Waste

Solid biohazardous 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. The Science Safety Office will provide the container and bags. Contact the Science Safety Office for the appropriate container and for the disposal of liquid biohazardous waste.

Biohazardous Waste, as defined in the California Health and Safety Code section 117625, is:

Laboratory waste, including, but not limited to, the following:

  • Cultures and stocks of infectious agents from research 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 BSL-2, 3 or 4. The Chief of the Medical Waste Management Program at the California Department of Public Health has concurred with this definition. Some of the cultures we work with in microbiology, mycology, molecular biology, biochemistry and research labs are at BSL-2 level.

Remember, NEVER put sharps in trash bags of any kind; always use rigid containers such as the sharps containers provided free of charge by the Science Safety Office.


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. Know where your lab's cleaning and disinfecting chemicals are and use them when necessary. Also, make sure corridors and eyewash/shower units are not blocked.

Special Biohazards

Medical Waste

If you or those you supervise immunize animals or work with human tissues or human blood-derived products, you produce medical waste. If you perform research pertaining to the diagnosis, treatment or immunization of humans or animals, you are probably producing Medical Waste. Solid 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; improper handling could result in serious fines from the City of Long Beach. Please call the Safety Office immediately if you think you might have 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 serious fines from the city of Long Beach. Please call the safety office immediately if you think your work might fall under the Bloodborne Pathogen Standard.

Recombinant DNA

You must obtain approval from the Institutional Biosafety Committee for projects involving recombinant DNA. Please submit a Recombinant DNA Application available from the Office of Research and Sponsored Programs.