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Contamination control equipment, like biosafety cabinets and clean benches, exists to protect life — your life, the life of your research, and ultimately the lives you save through discovery and healing.

The need to protect personnel, product, and the environment from exposure to biohazards and cross contamination during routine procedures is extremely important.  Because of the critical nature of this laboratory work, the equipment you choose should be designed and manufactured to meet the specific needs of your workplace, and to operate within a performance envelope which guarantees the widest margin of safety and product protection under demanding laboratory conditions.

It is important learn as much as possible about the capabilities, limitations and appropriate use of specific biosafety cabinets, and the adequacy of any containment cabinet for your personal safety should be confirmed by an industrial hygienist or qualified safety officer.

Tests Performed on Biosafety Cabinets

Any manufacturer of biosafety cabinets should perform tests on their products routinely and extensively.  This allows them to understand any design limitation, so they can develop more robust cabinet over time and make the limits of system failure as far away from normal operational settings as possible.  This helps ensure that you are provided with the safest and most reliable biological safety cabinet to protect you, your product, and your environment.

Physical Testing of Biosafety Cabinets

Life-cycle testing should be done on all new components and designs of a cabinet, including  electrical components, filters, and any moving parts (e.g. lifts, doors, motor blowers, and dampers).  The type of test will vary depending on the component.  One example of life-cycle testing from The Baker Company is the development of a new door system for our SterilSHIELD isolator.  We set up a pneumatic piston rig to simulate 20-years’ worth of door openings and closings.  In this way we know that we have the most reliable door design possible.

Microbiological Testing of Biosafety Cabinets

NSF International provides basic criteria to promote sanitation and protection of public health.  Their ANSI/NSF Standard 49 (NSF 49) establishes airflow characteristics and a minimum performance standard for Class II biosafety cabinets.  It also provides biological test methods that should be performed on biosafety cabinets to ensure they meet the prescribed performance standard.

In the tests, a cabinet is challenged by a specific concentration of the bacterium, Bacillus subtilis, to determine whether aerosols will be contained within the cabinet, outside contaminants will not enter the cabinet work area, and aerosol contamination of other equipment in the cabinet will be minimized.

At Baker, we perform extensive microbiological testing on all models of our biosafety cabinets according to NSF 49 to ensure they meet standards and also to the limits of our design.

The Performance Envelope

Testing procedures are designed to challenge cabinets under a variety of conditions, usually more severe than normal everyday use. This helps us design cabinets that provide unquestioned personnel and product protection over a range of airflow balance settings (intake velocity and downflow velocity). Baker does this elaborate testing to determine and expand the “Performance Envelope” of each individual cabinet.

The “Performance Envelope” is defined as the range of airflow balance settings throughout which the cabinet passes the microbiological tests for product and personnel protection. We understand that between your cabinet certification intervals, the intake and downflow velocities can change from ideal conditions because of filter loading, voltage changes (brown outs), and varying room pressures. Baker designs cabinets with the largest “Performance Envelopes” possible to protect you, your product, and your environment under changing conditions (not simply at a single set point).

Other Standards for Biosafety Cabinets

There are a myriad of different domestic and international standards for biological safety cabinets.  It is important to be sure that the cabinet you choose meets the specific standards required by your facility.  In addition to NSF 49, other standards and organizations include:

  • IEST – The Institute of Environmental Sciences and Technologies, an international, technical society of engineers, scientists, and educators that serves its members and the industries they represent (simulating, testing, controlling, and teaching the environments of earth and space) through education and the development of recommended practices and standards.
  • EN 12469 – A European standard by the European Committee for Standardization that provides performance criteria for microbiological safety cabinet.
  • CSA – A not-for-profit membership-based association serving business, industry, government and consumers in Canada and the global marketplace that works to develop standards that address real needs, such as enhancing public safety and health.
  • UL – A Nationally Recognized Testing Laboratory (NRTL) which certifies that products meet certain safety requirements.

Which Biological Safety Cabinet is Right for You?

At Baker, we spend considerable resources providing you with the safest and most reliable biological safety cabinets in the world. We test because we care.

To explore our options and help you quickly identify the class and type of biological safety cabinet that is best for your application, download our biosafety cabinet decision map. Just answer a few straightforward questions, and find out the technology that will best fit your specific containment and protection needs.

Download the decision map