Helpful Tips for Biosafety Cabinet Users


  • It is important to thoroughly understand procedures and equipment required before beginning use.
  • Arrange for minimal disruptions, such as room traffic or entry into the room, while the BSC is in use.


  • Turn off UV light, if in use. UV lights should not be turned on while lab personnel are in the room.
  • Ensure the window sash is set at the correct operating position (consult the Operator’s Manual for information).
  • Turn on fluorescent light and BSC blower  Allow the BSC to operate for at least 5 minutes prior to beginning work.
  • Check magnehelic gauge for proper pressure prior to starting work.
  • Wipe down the interior surface of the BSC with 70% ethanol, or another suitable disinfectant, and allow to dry.
  • BSC work surfaces should be wiped down with disinfectant prior to use, whenever there is a spill and when work has been completed.

During use

  • Biosafety cabinets are designed for a single operator. Never work with two or more people at a time in any BSC, regardless of manufacturer, model or size. Multiple users will cause air disruptions and potentially destroy the containment capabilities of the BSC, possibly creating personnel, product or environmental protection issues.   Any procedure specific exemption or waiver from this policy must be submitted to the Institutional Biosafety Officer and/or the Institutional Biosafety Committee Chair for review and approval prior to commencement.
  • Monitor the BSC’s alarms, pressure gauges or flow indicators for any major fluctuations or changes that may indicate a problem.
  • DO NOT change settings or disable BSC alarms…they are there for a reason! Alarms may indicate that personnel and/or product will not be protected.
  • DO NOT obstruct the front, side or rear air grilles. This will reduce or restrict airflow which may compromise product and/or personnel protection.
  • DO NOT overload the BSC!  Only load the materials required for the procedure.
  • DO NOT use the BSC for storage!
  • DO NOT place items on top of the unit, blocking or damaging the exhaust filter.
  • Protect the building vacuum system from possible biohazard contamination by placing disinfectant traps and an in‐line cartridge filter between the trap and the source valve in the BSC.
  • Open flames are not permitted in the biosafety cabinet! The flame will create turbulence which can disrupt the air patterns in the work space.  Heat created by the flame may also damage the HEPA filter(s) in the BSC.  It is recommended that an electric incinerator or Touch‐o‐Matic burner (w/a pilot light) be used instead of a Bunsen burner.
  • DO NOT use flammable gases or solvent materials in a Type A1 or A2 (formerly Type A/B3) BSC.  Since these types of BSCs recirculate a percentage of the air within the unit, explosive and/or toxic concentrations may be reached in the BSC, creating a safety hazard.  Flammable gases or solvent materials should ONLY be used in a Type B1 or B2 BSC, where the exhaust air is vented directly to the outside atmosphere.  For additional information, contact the Institutional Biosafety Officer at 614-292‐1284. 

Ultraviolet (UV) Lights in BSCs

The Biosafety in Microbiological and Biomedical Laboratories, 5th Ed (Appendix A, Section VI), states the following:

Ultraviolet (UV) lamps are not required in BSCs nor are they necessary. If installed, UV lamps must be cleaned weekly to remove any dust and dirt that may block the germicidal effectiveness of the ultraviolet light. The lamps should be checked weekly with a UV meter to ensure that the appropriate intensity of UV light is being emitted. UV lamps must be turned off when the room is occupied to protect eyes and skin from UV exposure, which can burn the cornea and cause skin cancer. If the cabinet has a sliding sash, close the sash when operating the UV lamp.