Biosafety Cabinets

Biological safety cabinets (BSCs), also known as biosafety cabinets, are enclosed, ventilated working spaces that can be used in laboratories as primary containment devices. These devices are designed to protect the operator, the laboratory environment and/or the work materials from exposure to infectious aerosols and splashes that may be generated when manipulating materials containing biological agents. According to different research needs, BSCs are divided into three categories, designated as Class I, Class II, and Class III. Class II and Class III cabinets provide operator, product, and environmental protection, while the Class I cabinets provide operator and environmental protection but no product protection. All BSCs use high efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filters to capture and filter particulate matter in intake and exhaust air. The HEPA filter is composed of many randomly oriented fibers that form a fibrous matrix. When air passes through the HEPA filter, particles that travel with the air can be captured by the fibers, thus effectively filtering the air. Most HEPA filters have a filtering efficiency of more than 99.97% for particles with a diameter of 0.3µm, which is the most penetrating particle size. Particles with a lower or higher diameter are removed with higher efficiency.

  • Class I BSCs are open-fronted enclosures that draw inward air flow across the work surface through the front opening. Class I BSCs have a very simple airflow design, which enables them to maintain performance in most laboratory environments. The air passes upward through a HEPA filter before being exhausted. Class I BSCs provide personnel and environmental protection, but do not provide product protection for materials located in the work area.
  • Class II BSCs are open-fronted enclosures like the Class I BSC, in which air enters the cabinet through the front opening to provide operator protection. The airflow inside the class II BSC is much more complex than in the other BSC classes due to the addition of airflow designed to provide product protection. HEPA-filtered air is driven as a downward airflow from the cabinet top to the work surface. The system involves partial recirculation of air within the cabinet, with filtered air divided between an exhaust and the downward flow mechanism. Five types of Class II cabinets are defined in the NSF standard, including A1, A2, B1, B2, and C1, and each type employs different inlet, recirculation, and exhaust mechanisms to achieve a combination of inward and downward air flows.
  • Class III BSCs are closed, sealed, negative-pressure enclosures that provide complete separation between the material being handled and the operator, laboratory, and surrounding environment. The enclosure is sealed to ensure safe gaseous decontamination. Operators access the working area using integrated gloves or gauntlets. The Class III BSCs are designed for work with biosafety level 4 (BSL-4) microbiological agents, and offer the highest degree of operator and environment protection.
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