#VIDEO: Safety Precautions and Operating Procedures in an (A)BSL-4 Laboratory

Biosafety level 4 (BSL-4) suit laboratories are specifically designed to study high-consequence pathogens for which neither infection prophylaxes nor treatment options exist. The hallmarks of these laboratories are: custom-designed airtight doors, dedicated supply and exhaust airflow systems, a negative-pressure environment, and mandatory use of positive-pressure (“space”) suits. The risk for laboratory specialists working with highly pathogenic agents is minimized through rigorous training and adherence to stringent safety protocols and standard operating procedures. Researchers perform the majority of their work in BSL-2 laboratories and switch to BSL-4 suit laboratories when work with a high-consequence pathogen is required. Collaborators and scientists considering BSL-4 projects should be aware of the challenges associated with BSL-4 research both in terms of experimental technical limitations in BSL-4 laboratory space and the increased duration of such experiments. Tasks such as entering and exiting the BSL-4 suit laboratories are considerably more complex and time-consuming compared to BSL-2 and BSL-3 laboratories. The focus of this particular article is to address basic biosafety concerns and describe the entrance and exit procedures for the BSL-4 laboratory at the NIH/NIAID Integrated Research Facility at Fort Detrick. Such procedures include checking external systems that support the BSL-4 laboratory, and inspecting and donning positive-pressure suits, entering the laboratory, moving through air pressure-resistant doors, and connecting to air-supply hoses. We will also discuss moving within and exiting the BSL-4 suit laboratories, including using the chemical shower and removing and storing positive-pressure suits.

Janosko, Krisztina et al. “Safety Precautions and Operating Procedures in an (A)BSL-4 Laboratory: 1. Biosafety Level 4 Suit Laboratory Suite Entry and Exit Procedures.” Journal of Visualized Experiments : JoVE 116 (2016): 52317. PMC. Web. 17 Nov. 2016.
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