Certification of Biosafety Cabinets

The biosafety cabinet is the principle containment device used to protect the laboratory worker and surrounding environment from infectious biological materials. Despite this central role, many biosafety cabinets in use are not routinely tested and verified for correct functional operation and integrity. This process, referred to as certification, must be carried out by trained individuals and requires the use of calibrated testing equipment.

Using biosafety cabinets that have not been properly certified not only presents a risk to infection among laboratory workers, but also presents a risk of release of infectious agents back into the surrounding community and environment preventing global efforts to contain and control infectious diseases. The IFBA recognizes the importance of these risks and encourages national authorities to invest in a comprehensive program for the routine certification of biosafety cabinets. This requires that each country have a critical mass of calibrated testing equipment for use by competent personnel.

View the IFBA’s Certification of Biosafety Cabinets video

Challenges and Solutions for the Certification of Biosafety Cabinets

In November of 2019, the IFBA spoke with biosafety cabinet certification trainees from the South East Asian region to gather insight into the challenges they face and identify solutions for improvement. Several challenges were identified which are preventing the certification of biosafety cabinets from happening in many laboratories across the region including:
• Prohibitive costs for using external certifiers
• Lack of availability of certification equipment for certifiers to use
• Difficulties encountered with annual calibration of certification equipment
• Vast differences in number of biosafety cabinet manufacturers and models
• Overwhelming number of BSCs to be certified with no complete inventory
• Cost and unavailability of replacement parts and HEPA filters
• Unavailability of equipment for fumigation of BSCs requiring repairs
• Lack of understanding of the importance and need for regular certification
• Approach and standards used for certification are not uniformly applied in all countries

Addressing these challenges will require cost-effective and sustainable solutions towards the availability, distribution and calibration of BSC certification equipment. In collaboration with NSF International and other partners, the IFBA is identifying a variety of possible solutions and equipment sharing models, that are sustainable, locally owned, and that when taken together with existing programs may improve the situation.