Biological safety cabinets are used wherever we want to limit contamination, such as when we are working with pathogenic (disease-causing) organisms or when contamination from outside will seriously compromise our work (e.g. with cell culture).

Unlike laminar flow cabinets (which drawn in air and expel it unfiltered) or fume cabinets (which draw in air and expel it outside the room), biological safety cabinets circulate air through a series of high quality filters. Because we want to have a non-contaminating environment inside the cabinet, we need to follow a set procedure whenever we use them.

When starting up:

  • Remove the metal sash from the front of the cabinet, stacking it on the floor next to it
  • Turn the cabinet on – you should hear a rush of air and the light should turn on
  • Spray the work area with 70% ethanol and wipe with a paper towel

When using:

  • Gather all of the items you will be using
  • All items which enter the cabinet must be decontaminated by spraying with 70% ethanol and wiping with paper towel before being placed inside
  • Perform all work with your hands inside the cabinet

When finished:

  • Remove all gear from inside the cabinet
  • Unscrew the waste jar from the vacuum line and place a squirt of iodine decontaminant into the mixture. Tip the contents down the sink with a lot of water following it. Rinse and replace on the vacuum line
  • Spray the work area with iodine decontaminant and wipe with a paper towel
  • Spray the work area with water and wipe with a paper towel
  • Spray the work area with 70% ethanol and wipe with a paper towel
  • Turn the cabinet off and replace the metal sash
  • Press the “UV” button – you should see the UV light turn on. It will remain on for 20 minutes (Do not use the cabinet while the UV light is on)