BSCs keep labs safe and clean

Breaking down acronyms with the experts who work with them day in and day out
October 21, 2019

Robert Hernandez, Director of Quality & Compliance, Advanced Therapies & HCT/Ps, oversees policies and regulatory compliance on the procurement, development and manufacture of human cells, tissues, and cellular and tissue-based products (HCT/Ps) at BioBridge Global. He answers the question “What is a BSC?”

What is a BSC?

A biological safety cabinet (BSC) is an enclosed lab bench that provides a safe working environment for lab personnel processing microbiological, cell culture and clinical samples. It also controls contamination from spreading into the product or sample inside the BSC.

BSCs also can be used as an aseptic manufacturing environment within a cleanroom for performing critical work, such as filling final product containers. 

BioBridge Global uses Class II, Type A2 BSCs, the most commonly used type in labs worldwide.

BSCs work by circulating air currents through high-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filters, which trap nearly all particles and contaminants in the air. The majority of air is recycled back into the BSC as clean downflow air. The rest is released into the environment.

Because BSCs rely on the air that flows in, they can be sensitive to the operator’s technique. For example, if a lab technician places their arms over the inflow air grill, they can block the flow of air, and the current of clean air would be compromised.

BSCs also can be affected by airflows in the environment around them. Rapid or erratic movements outside of a BSC create air disturbances that break the clean air curtain at the entrance to the BSC.

Guidelines for working safely in a BSC include:

  • Staff should ensure that all procedures related to putting on and removing cleanroom/laboratory garments and personal protective equipment are followed.
  • Movement should be limited and deliberate when working in a BSC.
  • Access to the area around the BSC should be limited to prevent airflow disruptions.
  • Cleaning, decontamination and maintenance of a BSC should be done by trained staff. 

Ensuring the reliability of our BSCs is not only a customer expectation, but also a regulatory requirement. 

BSCs are typically inspected and certified by a qualified supplier to ensure the BSC is maintaining proper air flow and to check HEPA filter integrity.

Some BSCs are also subject to an environmental monitoring (EM) program. EM sampling includes using an air sampler and contact plates to detect microbial contaminants. If detected, that triggers the need for staff to clean or sanitize the area.

By maintaining the quality of samples and products processed in BSCs, our organization delivers excellent outcomes for our customers, which includes the safety of the patients receiving therapies.

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