Biological hazards, also known as biohazards, refer to biological substances that pose a threat to the health of living organisms, primarily that of humans. This can include samples of a microorganism, virus or toxin (from a biological source) that can affect human health. It can also include substances harmful to other animals.
A microorganism, or microbe, is a microscopic organism, which may exist in its single-celled form or in a colony of cells.
A virus is a small infectious agent that replicates only inside the living cells of an organism. Viruses can infect all types of life forms, from animals and plants to microorganisms, including bacteria and archaea.
A toxin is a poisonous substance produced within living cells or organisms; synthetic toxicants created by artificial processes are thus excluded. The term was first used by organic chemist Ludwig Brieger (1849–1919), derived from the word toxic.
The term and its associated symbol are generally used as a warning, so that those potentially exposed to the substances will know to take precautions. The biohazard symbol was developed in 1966 by Charles Baldwin, an environmental-health engineer working for the Dow Chemical Company on the containment products.
The Dow Chemical Company, commonly referred to as Dow, is an American multinational chemical corporation headquartered in Midland, Michigan, United States, and the predecessor of the merged company DowDuPont. In 2017, prior to the merger, it was the second-largest chemical manufacturer in the world by revenue and the third-largest chemical company in the world by market capitalization. It ranked second in the world by chemical production in 2014.
It is used in the labeling of biological materials that carry a significant health risk, including viral samples and used hypodermic needles.
In Unicode, the biohazard symbol is U+2623 (☣).
Bio hazardous agents are classified for transportation by UN number:
UN numbers are four-digit numbers that identify hazardous materials, and articles in the framework of international transport. Some hazardous substances have their own UN numbers, while sometimes groups of chemicals or products with similar properties receive a common UN number. A chemical in its solid state may receive a different UN number than the liquid phase if their hazardous properties differ significantly; substances with different levels of purity may also receive different UN numbers.
The United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) categorizes various diseases in levels of biohazard, Level 1 being minimum risk and Level 4 being extreme risk. Laboratories and other facilities are categorized as BSL (Biosafety Level) 1–4 or as P1 through P4 for short (Pathogen or Protection Level).
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is the leading national public health institute of the United States. The CDC is a United States federal agency under the Department of Health and Human Services and is headquartered in Atlanta, Georgia.
Bacillus subtilis, known also as the hay bacillus or grass bacillus, is a Gram-positive, catalase-positive bacterium, found in soil and the gastrointestinal tract of ruminants and humans. A member of the genus Bacillus, B. subtilis is rod-shaped, and can form a tough, protective endospore, allowing it to tolerate extreme environmental conditions. B. subtilis has historically been classified as an obligate aerobe, though evidence exists that it is a facultative anaerobe. B. subtilis is considered the best studied Gram-positive bacterium and a model organism to study bacterial chromosome replication and cell differentiation. It is one of the bacterial champions in secreted enzyme production and used on an industrial scale by biotechnology companies.
The biological family Canidae is a lineage of carnivorans that includes domestic dogs, wolves, coyotes, foxes, jackals, dingoes, and many other extant and extinct dog-like mammals. A member of this family is called a canid.
Hepatitis is inflammation of the liver tissue. Some people have no symptoms whereas others develop yellow discoloration of the skin and whites of the eyes, poor appetite, vomiting, tiredness, abdominal pain, or diarrhea. Hepatitis may be temporary (acute) or long term (chronic) depending on whether it lasts for less than or more than six months. Acute hepatitis can sometimes resolve on its own, progress to chronic hepatitis, or rarely result in acute liver failure. Over time the chronic form may progress to scarring of the liver, liver failure, or liver cancer.
The biohazard symbol was developed by the Dow Chemical Company in 1966 for their containment products.According to Charles Baldwin, an environmental-health engineer who contributed to its development: "We wanted something that was memorable but meaningless, so we could educate people as to what it means." In an article he wrote for Science in 1967, the symbol was presented as the new standard for all biological hazards ("biohazards"). The article explained that over 40 symbols were drawn up by Dow artists, and all of the symbols investigated had to meet a number of criteria:
The chosen symbol scored the best on nationwide testing for memorability.
The design was first specified in 39 FR 23680 but was dropped in the succeeding amendment. However, various US states adopted the specification for their state code.
There are four circles within the symbol, signifying the chain of infection.
Biosafety is the prevention of large-scale loss of biological integrity, focusing both on ecology and human health. These prevention mechanisms include conduction of regular reviews of the biosafety in laboratory settings, as well as strict guidelines to follow. Biosafety is used to protect from harmful incidents. Many laboratories handling biohazards employ an ongoing risk management assessment and enforcement process for biosafety. Failures to follow such protocols can lead to increased risk of exposure to biohazards or pathogens. Human error and poor technique contribute to unnecessary exposure and compromise the best safeguards set into place for protection.
A biosafety level is a set of biocontainment precautions required to isolate dangerous biological agents in an enclosed laboratory facility. The levels of containment range from the lowest biosafety level 1 (BSL-1) to the highest at level 4 (BSL-4). In the United States, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) have specified these levels. In the European Union, the same biosafety levels are defined in a directive. In Canada the four levels are known as Containment Levels. Facilities with these designations are also sometimes given as P1 through P4, as in the term "P3 laboratory".
Hazard symbols or warning symbols are recognisable symbols designed to warn about hazardous or dangerous materials, locations, or objects, including electric currents, poisons, and radioactivity. The use of hazard symbols is often regulated by law and directed by standards organisations. Hazard symbols may appear with different colors, backgrounds, borders and supplemental information in order to specify the type of hazard and the level of threat. Warning symbols are used in many places in lieu of or addition to written warnings as they are quickly recognized and more commonly understood.
Bolivian hemorrhagic fever (BHF), also known as black typhus or Ordog Fever, is a hemorrhagic fever and zoonotic infectious disease originating in Bolivia after infection by Machupo mammarenavirus.
Viral hemorrhagic fevers (VHFs) are a diverse group of animal and human illnesses in which fever and hemorrhage are caused by a viral infection. VHFs may be caused by five distinct families of RNA viruses: the families Arenaviridae, Filoviridae, Bunyaviridae, Flaviviridae, and Rhabdoviridae. All types of VHF are characterized by fever and bleeding disorders and all can progress to high fever, shock and death in many cases. Some of the VHF agents cause relatively mild illnesses, such as the Scandinavian nephropathia epidemica, while others, such as Ebola virus, can cause severe, life-threatening disease.
The National Microbiology Laboratory (NML) is part of the Infectious Disease Prevention and Control Branch of the Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC), the agency of the Government of Canada that is responsible for public health, health emergency preparedness and response, and infectious and chronic disease control and prevention.
Venezuelan hemorrhagic fever (VHF) is a zoonotic human illness first identified in 1989. The disease is most prevalent in several rural areas of central Venezuela and is caused by Guanarito mammarenavirus (GTOV) which belongs to the Arenaviridae family. The short-tailed cane mouse is the main host for GTOV which is spread mostly by inhalation of aerosolized droplets of saliva, respiratory secretions, urine, or blood from infected rodents. Person-to-person spread is possible, but uncommon.
The United States Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases is the U.S Army's main institution and facility for defensive research into countermeasures against biological warfare. It is located on Fort Detrick, Maryland and is a subordinate lab of the U.S. Army Medical Research and Materiel Command (USAMRMC), headquartered on the same installation.
The concept of biocontainment is related to laboratory biosafety and pertains to microbiology laboratories in which the physical containment of pathogenic organisms or agents is required, usually by isolation in environmentally and biologically secure cabinets or rooms, to prevent accidental infection of workers or release into the surrounding community during scientific research. The term "biocontainment" was coined in 1985, but the concept stretches back at least to the 1940s.
An occupational hazard is a hazard experienced in the workplace. Occupational hazards can encompass many types of hazards, including chemical hazards, biological hazards (biohazards), psychosocial hazards, and physical hazards. In the United States, the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) conduct workplace investigations and research addressing workplace health and safety hazards resulting in guidelines. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) establishes enforceable standards to prevent workplace injuries and illnesses. In the EU a similar role is taken by EU-OSHA.
Crime scene cleanup is a term applied to forensic cleanup of blood, bodily fluids, and other potentially infectious materials (OPIM). It is also referred to as biohazard remediation, and forensic cleanup, because crime scenes are only a portion of the situations in which biohazard cleaning is needed. Incidents which may require this type of cleanup include accidents, suicide, homicides, and decomposition after unattended death, as well as mass trauma, industrial accidents, infectious disease contamination, animal biohazard contamination or regulated waste transport, treatment, and disposal.
The National Institute of Virology, Pune is an Indian virology research institute, and one of the Translational science cells part of Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR). It was previously known as 'Virus Research Center' and was founded in collaboration with the Rockefeller Foundation. It has been designated as a WHO H5 reference Laboratory for SE Asia region
Clarence James Peters, Jr, M.D. is a physician, field virologist and former U.S. Army colonel. He is noted for his efforts in trying to stem epidemics of exotic infectious diseases such as the Ebola virus, Hanta virus and Rift Valley fever (RVF). He is an eminent authority on the virology, pathogenesis and epidemiology of hemorrhagic fever viruses.
Brazilian hemorrhagic fever (BzHF) is an infectious disease caused by the Sabiá virus, an arenavirus. The Sabiá virus is one of the arenaviruses from South America to cause hemorrhagic fever. It shares a common progenitor with the Junin virus, Machupo virus, Tacaribe virus, and Guanarito virus. It is an enveloped RNA virus and is highly infectious and lethal. Very little is known about this disease, but it is thought to be transmitted by the excreta of rodents.
The species Bundibugyo ebolavirus is the taxonomic home of one virus, Bundibugyo virus (BDBV), that forms filamentous virions and is closely related to the infamous Ebola virus (EBOV). The virus causes severe disease in humans in the form of viral hemorrhagic fever and is a Select Agent, World Health Organization Risk Group 4 Pathogen, National Institutes of Health/National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases Category A Priority Pathogen, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Category A Bioterrorism Agent, and is listed as a Biological Agent for Export Control by the Australia Group.
Bundibugyo virus is a close relative of the much more commonly known Ebola virus (EBOV). BDBV causes severe disease in humans and (experimentally) in nonhuman primates, the Ebola hemorrhagic fever. BDBV is a Select Agent, World Health Organization Risk Group 4 Pathogen, National Institutes of Health/National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases Category A Priority Pathogen, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Category A Bioterrorism Agent, and is listed as a Biological Agent for Export Control by the Australia Group.
Ravn virus is a close relative of the much more commonly known Marburg virus (MARV). RAVV causes Marburg virus disease in humans and nonhuman primates, a form of viral hemorrhagic fever. RAVV is a Select agent, World Health Organization Risk Group 4 Pathogen, National Institutes of Health/National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases Category A Priority Pathogen, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Category A Bioterrorism Agent, and listed as a Biological Agent for Export Control by the Australia Group.
The Aeromedical Isolation Team of the US Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases (USAMRIID) at Fort Detrick, Maryland was a military rapid response team with worldwide airlift capability designed to safely evacuate and manage contagious patients under high-level (BSL-4) bio-containment conditions. Created in 1978, during its final years the AIT was one of MEDCOM’s Special Medical Augmentation Response Teams comprising a portable containment laboratory along with its transit isolators for patient transport. Contingency missions included bioterrorism scenarios as well as the extraction of scientists with exotic infections from remote sites in foreign countries. The AIT trained continuously and was often put on alert status, but only deployed for “real world” missions four times. The AIT was decommissioned in 2010 and its mission assumed by one of the US Air Force’s Critical Care Air Transport Teams (CCATTs).
The United States biological defense program—in recent years also called the National Biodefense Strategy—began as a small defensive effort that paralleled the country's offensive biological weapons development and production program, active between 1943 and 1969. Organizationally, the medical defense research effort was pursued first (1956-1969) by the U.S. Army Medical Unit (USAMU) and later, after the discontinuation of the offensive program, by the U.S. Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases (USAMRIID). Both of these units were located at Fort Detrick, Maryland, where the U.S. Army Biological Warfare Laboratories were headquartered. The current mission is multi-agency, not exclusively military, and is purely to develop defensive measures against bio-agents, as opposed to the former bio-weapons development program.
The curation of extraterrestrial samples (astromaterials) obtained by sample-return missions take place at facilities specially designed to preserve both the sample integrity and protect the Earth. Astromaterials are classified as either non-restricted or restricted, depending on the nature of the Solar System body. Non-restricted samples include the Moon, asteroids, comets, solar particles and space dust. Restricted bodies include planets or moons suspected to have either past or present habitable environments to microscopic life, and therefore must be treated as extremely biohazardous.