Biosafety Emergency Procedures

Spill Kit

Each laboratory containing recombinant and/or biohazardous material must have a spill kit containing:

  • Appropriate disinfectants
  • Absorbent material
  • Personnel protective equipment
  • Biohazard bags
  • Dust pan and broom

It is the responsibility of the Approval Holder to ensure that these items are readily available and stocked at all times. The Approval Holder must also develop appropriate containment, inactivation, and spill cleanup procedures for the specific biological materials to be used in the laboratory.

Recombinant and Biohazardous Material Spill Cleanup

If a spill occurs outside of a Biosafety Cabinet, is considered too large or too dangerous for laboratory personnel to safely clean up, involves select agents, or occurs in a public space, you must secure the spill and the area and call Research Laboratory & Safety Services at (520) 626-6850 (or the University of Arizona Police Department if after hours) immediately for assistance.

Remove all potentially contaminated clothing and place it in a bag for decontamination. Exposed or contaminated skin must be washed immediately with soap and water. Use an emergency shower if available.

Biological spills can generate aerosols that can be dispersed throughout the laboratory. Serious exposure can result from an aerosol outside of containment at BSL-2 and BSL-3. To reduce the risk of exposure in such an incident, occupants must hold their breath, notify others in the surrounding area, and immediately evacuate the area. Allow the aerosol to settle for at least thirty (30) minutes prior to reentering the laboratory to decontaminate and clean up the spill. Ensure the appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE) is worn when decontaminating any spill. RLSS may require individual cleaning up the spill to wear respiratory protection.

Spills inside the Biosafety Cabinet

  • Alert people in immediate area of spill.
  • Remove any contaminated personnel protective equipment (PPE) and don fresh PPE.
  • Cover spill with paper towels or absorbent pads.
  • Carefully pour a freshly prepared 10% (vol./vol. w/water) dilution of household bleach around the edges of the spill and then into the spill. Avoid splashing.
  • Allow a 15 minute contact period.
  • Use paper towels or absorbent pads to wipe up the spill, working from the edges into the center.
  • Clean spill area with fresh towels soaked in disinfectant.
  • Place towels or absorbent pads in red plastic bag for disposal in the Biohazardous waste container.

Spills Outside of the Biosafety Cabinet and Primary Containment

If a spill occurs outside of the biosafety cabinet, but remains within the laboratory, you must secure the spill and the area and call Research Laboratory & Safety Services (or the University of Arizona Police Department if after hours) immediately and perform the following:

  • Hold breath and clear the area of all personnel.
  • Follow instructions provided by Research Laboratory & Safety Services (RLSS).
  • Wait at least thirty (30) minutes for aerosol to settle before entering the spill area. RLSS may need to notify the building manager to shut down air the handling system.
  • Remove any contaminated clothing and place it in a biohazard bag to be autoclaved.
  • Prior to starting the decontamination process, put on agent specific PPE and a respirator if appropriate.
  • Initiate cleanup with 10% sodium hypochlorite solution as follows:
    • Place absorbent material on spill; then layer a second set of disinfectant soaked paper towels over the spill.
    • Encircle the spill with additional disinfectant being careful to minimize aerosolization while assuring adequate contact.
    • Decontaminate all items within spill the area.
    • Allow a minimum of 15 minutes contact time (Note: a longer contact time may be necessary for some agents).
    • Wipe equipment with appropriate disinfectant.
    • Discard contaminated disposable materials using appropriate biohazardous waste disposal procedures (e.g., autoclave).

Medical and Fire Emergencies Involving Recombinant and/or Biohazardous Material

Call 911 to report the emergency. After speaking with emergency services, call RLSS at (520) 626-6850.

Provide as much information about the situation as possible.


  • Location
  • Condition of victim or cause of fire
  • Your name
  • The type of recombinant and/or biohazardous material and how it is involved

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