Risk Management Services

A Unit of the Business Affairs Division

Biological Spill

Notes and Precautions

Biological spills outside biological safety cabinets will generate aerosols that can be dispersed in the air throughout the laboratory. These spills are very serious if they involve microorganisms that require Biosafety Level (BSL) 3 containment, since most of these agents have the potential for transmitting disease by infectious aerosols. To reduce the risk of inhalation exposure in such an incident, occupants should hold their breath and leave the laboratory immediately. The laboratory should not be reentered to decontaminate and clean up the spill for at least 30 minutes. During this time the aerosol will be removed from the laboratory by the exhaust air ventilation system. Appropriate protective equipment is particularly important in decontaminating spills involving microorganisms that require BSL 2 or BSL 3 containment. This equipment includes lab coat with long sleeves, back-fastening gown or jumpsuit, disposable gloves, disposable shoe covers, and safety goggles and mask or full-face shield. Use of this equipment will prevent contact with contaminated surfaces and protect eyes and mucous membranes from exposure to splattered materials.

Spill Involving a Microorganism Requiring BSL 1 or BSL 2 Containment

  • Alert people in immediate area of spill.
  • Put on proper personal protective equipment.
  • Cover spill with paper towels or absorbent pads.
  • Carefully pour a freshly prepared 10% (vol./vol. w/water) dilution of household bleach around the edges of the spill and then into the spill. Avoid splashing.
  • Allow a 15-minute contact period.
  • Use paper towels to wipe up the spill, working from the edges into the center.
  • Clean spill area with fresh towels soaked in disinfectant.
  • Place towels in a red plastic bag for disposal in the biohazardous waste.

Spill Involving a Microorganism Requiring BSL 3 Containment

  • Attend to injured or contaminated persons and remove them from exposure.
  • Alert people in the laboratory to evacuate.
  • Close doors to affected area.
  • Call Biological Spill Emergency Response number (621-1790).
  • Have person knowledgeable of incident and laboratory assist emergency personnel.