We love hearing from our customers – even more when they turn to us as a trusted resource for questions about their biosafety cabinets, hoods and other containment equipment. When a customer question is of general interest, we publish the Q&A here for others to learn from. Here’s the latest round of customer Q&A.
Toxic, Explosive or Flammable Substances
On all Baker class II biosafety cabinets, there is an operating instruction posted on the cabinet itself stating, “Caution: Do not use toxic, explosive or flammable substances in this cabinet.” What does Baker mean by this?
Baker provides caution statements like this on all products we manufacture to draw attention to the design limitations of our equipment. We manufacture our products to the highest standards and test each unit prior to delivery to ensure optimal performance. But the performance of our cabinets in any particular laboratory is only as good as the suitability of a given cabinet to a particular application and the protocols employed by the end users.
A qualified health and safety professional, such as an industrial hygienist or safety officer, should always perform a risk assessment on any and all activities that are to be performed in a biological safety cabinet to ensure that the class and type of the biosafety cabinet is appropriate for the work. Additionally, operating personnel should be monitored regularly to ensure the cabinet is being used correctly.
Usable vs. Operating Current
What is the difference between total usable current and operating current?
The power consumption for Baker cabinets is largely dictated by the customer’s use of the outlets. For example, a 12A total current spec is determined by the 115V, 15A, 60Hz, 1Ø electrical service requirement and the UL requirement to only use 80% of the provided service – hence, 12A total usable current. With no load on the outlets, the cabinet only uses operating current (also called running current). You can find the specific operating current for each Baker product in its brochure. All our product literature is available in our publication library.
Waste Anaesthetic Gases
If we replace the prefilter in our animal transfer station with an activated carbon filter to absorb bed smell, is there any chance of gas, such as isoflurane, leaking from the workstation?
The activated carbon will filter out gases, including isoflurane. There is a limit to the amount that a carbon filter can adsorb though. The filter will no longer function properly once its capacity is reached, so carbon filters should be routinely replaced.
Exhaust Air Sterility
Is the air exiting the HEPA filter of the SterilGARD e3 considered sterile?
Sterile means absolutely no contamination. Depending on its quality, a HEPA air filter can trap from 9,997 to 9,999 of every 10,000 particulates of a diameter greater than and less than 0.3 micron. For most industrial uses, the 99.97% performance is acceptable. Pharmacy and laboratory applications, however, require a 99.99% filtration performance level. Because a HEPA filter does not filter out 100% of particles the air exhausted from a SterilGARD is not defined as sterile.
Cleaning Chemotherapy Hoods
What is the best way to clean hoods that are used for chemotherapy preparation?
When it comes to hazardous drug preparations within our equipment, Baker does not recommend specifics on appropriate disinfection agents or decontamination methods. However, the appropriate cleaning/neutralizing agent for the hazardous drug, as determined by your facility, should be used to properly decontaminate the interior surfaces of any isolator or biosafety cabinet. After completion, always rinse work surfaces with sterile water and wipe dry. The HEPA filter media surfaces should never be wiped down, vacuumed or disturbed during cleaning procedures as the media is very delicate. For information on surface decontamination, please refer to the ASHP Guidelines on Handling Hazardous Drugs.
Biosafety Cabinet Placement
We are setting up a new lab and need to know where to place biosafety cabinets to avoid disrupting the air flow.
Several factors can disrupt the air flow within a biosafety cabinet, such as being placed too close to an entryway, wall, benchtop, or to other cabinets nearby, as well as being placed in a high traffic area. The National Institutes of Health Office of Research Facilities has published a general guideline regarding the placement of biosafety cabinets within a laboratory. If your units need to be connected to an exhaust system, you will need to plan for that as well. Whether a cabinet exhausts to the room or to the outdoors depends on the work that will be done inside the cabinet. Your safety officer can conduct a risk assessment to make that decision.
Which biosafety cabinet is right for your research?
While only a qualified health and safety professional can make the ultimate decision about what type of air containment technology will best protect you and your research, we can get you started with our Biological Safety Cabinet Decision Map. Just answer a few straightforward questions and learn which technology will best fit your specific containment and protection needs.