BSL-3 laboratory practices in the United States: Comparison of select agent and non-select agent facilities

Stephanie L. Richards, Victoria C. Pompei, Alice Anderson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Scopus citations


New construction of biosafety level 3 (BSL-3) laboratories in the United States has increased in the past decade to facilitate research on potential bioterrorism agents. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention inspect BSL-3 facilities and review commissioning documentation, but no single agency has oversight over all BSL-3 facilities. This article explores the extent to which standard operating procedures in US BSL-3 facilities vary between laboratories with select agent or non-select agent status. Comparisons are made for the following variables: personnel training, decontamination, personal protective equipment (PPE), medical surveillance, security access, laboratory structure and maintenance, funding, and pest management. Facilities working with select agents had more complex training programs and decontamination procedures than non-select agent facilities. Personnel working in select agent laboratories were likely to use powered air purifying respirators, while non-select agent laboratories primarily used N95 respirators. More rigorous medical surveillance was carried out in select agent workers (although not required by the select agent program) and a higher level of restrictive access to laboratories was found. Most select agent and non-select agent laboratories reported adequate structural integrity in facilities; however, differences were observed in personnel perception of funding for repairs. Pest management was carried out by select agent personnel more frequently than non-select agent personnel. Our findings support the need to promote high quality biosafety training and standard operating procedures in both select agent and non-select agent laboratories to improve occupational health and safety.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-7
Number of pages7
JournalBiosecurity and Bioterrorism
Issue number1
StatePublished - Feb 1 2014
Externally publishedYes


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