Home Interviews THMG136 – Biological Facilities Intro with Jacqui Hardt

THMG136 – Biological Facilities Intro with Jacqui Hardt


In this episode, Bob and Mike talk to Jacqui Hardt about the civilian side of biological facilities. They discuss the different types of operations out there and how to close the gap in training between emergency services and the scientific community.

The following links provide additional helpful information on the topic:
Biosafety in Microbiological and Biomedical Laboratories (5th Edition)
Pathogen Safety Data Sheets and Risk Assessment
Incident Response Plan Guidance (7 CFR Part 331, 9 CFR Part 121, 42 CFR Part 73)
California Code of Regulations Subchapter 7: General Industry Safety Orders

Thank to our sponsor, CBRNE Convergence World 2018. This show will be held in Orlando, Florida, USA. Click here for registration information and other fantastic information.

Complete Show Notes

1:30 Introduction to Jacqui Hardt

  • Studied molecular and cellular biology in England
  • Worked in research and development in England before her company transferred her to San Diego
  • Currently works as a biological safety professional
  • To gain certification maintenance points for different aspects of her job, she listened to (and got hooked on) The Haz Mat Guys podcast

3:40 Four Classifications of Biological Laboratories

  • Biological laboratories are designed to hold different hazardous organisms (i.e. algae, fungi, bacteria, and viruses) for research, diagnosis, and development
  • Four classifications are BSL-1, BSL-2, BSL-3, and BSL-4 (BSL stands for biological safety/biosafety level)
  • Keep in mind that some of these organisms are genetically modified, so this adds an extra level of uncertainty

5:40 BSL-1 Laboratories

  • Houses Risk Group 1 agents, which are very unlikely to harm or cause disease in people or animals
  • These don’t need to be labeled as biohazards and usually just look like your standard chemistry labs
  • Agents include algae and non-pathogenic bacteria or viruses (think biofuel labs)
  • Don’t need many controls in place since there isn’t a risk associated with infection
  • First responders need to be aware of what else is in the lab – could include chemicals (i.e. reagents), compressed gasses, radioactive materials, or animals (i.e. rodents, mosquitoes, etc.)

7:10 BSL-2 Laboratories

  • Houses Risk Group 2 agents, which are pathogens that could cause harm to human beings
  • Agents include the hepatitis B virus and common cold germs – you obviously won’t die from these, but they’re known to cause harm
  • Usually organisms that don’t have a seriously low infectious dose – to catch them, you need a major exposure to become sick
  • Both BSL-1 and BSL-2 labs are very common – any place that’s doing science will have a BSL-1 or higher lab

13:25 BSL-3 Laboratories

  • Not as prevalent as BSL-1 or BSL-2 labs – however, their presence also isn’t widely advertised and they’re under strict security
  • These labs contain select agents (~50 of these exist), which are biological materials or materials derived from biological materials (i.e. toxins) that can be used for bioterrorism
  • Handles agents like anthrax, ricin, linum toxins, highly pathogenic influenza, smallpox, plague, ebola, etc.

15:10 BSL-4 Laboratories

  • Extremely rare – probably only 10-20 of these labs in the entire United States
  • Usually located in places like the CDC or governmental organizations doing high-level pathogenic research

16:00 Setup of Typical BSL-3 and BSL-4 Laboratories

  • Responders might not know what’s inside the lab they’re approaching to or be familiar with how to navigate them
  • Facilities themselves will have containment measures designed to protect against the release of pathogens
  • If a pathogen’s primary containment is breached, the individual rooms in the facility serve as back-up containment because there’s zero air flow
  • Each suite also has its own autoclave to aid with thorough decontamination – nothing leaving the facility should ever be alive (other than the workers)

19:05 Handling Our Response to BSL Lab Emergencies

  • There are AEDs in or around the different suites to assist someone experiencing medical problems – often located in gowning areas
  • Scientists also receive CPR/AED training so they can help victims in the interim before first responders arrive
  • Labs are required to have emergency plans in place, and employees are drilled on those plans so everyone is prepared and on the same page
  • Many first responders stop at the door and don’t want to go into the lab because they’re worried about catching a fatal disease
  • Scientists, on the other hand, assume the first responders will just come right in since they run into burning buildings
  • It’s important to keep an open dialogue so you can figure out the best way to handle your response to incidents at these facilities
  • Labs want first responders to:
    • Help employees safely remove the outer layer of their PPE (let them take the lead since they do this every day)
    • Continue to de-gown and decon the victim in the gowning area (warm zone)
    • Get employees out (preferably in their street clothes) – try using a mechanic’s dolly if there’s one nearby
    • Shut the doors and worry about facility cleanup later

33:45 Closing the Gap Between Scientists and First Responders

  • It’s vitally important to develop a good relationship with these facilities before the response even happens – have a pre-dialogue with biological safety officers and environmental health and safety staff
  • This gives us confidence that the victims have already been properly decontaminated before we transport them to a hospital
  • Have your emergency responders pre-tour the facility beforehand so they know what they’re going into
  • Perform fire inspections
  • Have an expert within your division who knows about biologicals (especially ones used for bioterrorism) – the more you know about pathogen hazards, the easier you can have a conversation with on-site experts
  • Collaboratively develop emergency protocols, including law enforcement for select agent labs
  • Source and stage emergency equipment (AEDs, mechanic’s dollies, decon stations in gowning areas, etc.) ahead of time
  • Conduct and videotape drills in the facility with your first responders – review them afterwards so all parties have visibility
  • Regularly review your emergency response program to continuously improve your response to incidents at biological facilities

39:05 Federal Regulations for BSL Labs

  • Only facilities with select agents related to bioterrorism are inspected – CDC or USDA take care of these inspections to ensure the proper safety measures are in place
  • Facilities that don’t contain any of these select agents may not be regulated at all
  • A lot of regulation is just done based on best practices under a number of OSHA clauses
  • These include the Bloodborne Pathogen Standard (can apply to BSL-2 labs) and California’s Aerosol Transmissible Disease Standard
  • All in all, governmental body oversight of BSL labs is very limited – this is interesting because a lot of the chemicals are regulated by OSHA and other agencies, but biologicals aren’t

41:10 Helpful Resources

  • Biosafety in Microbiological and Biomedical Laboratories (BMBL) from the CDC and NIH
    • Available for free online – print a copy out and put it in your station or truck
    • Hands-on booklet that provides an overview of biological safety levels, containment practices, and more information on specific organisms
  • Pathogen Safety Data Sheets
    • There’s no legal requirement to have safety data sheets for biologicals, which leads to a knowledge gap
    • Canadian scientists saw this gap and put together an archive of biological safety data sheets
    • Provides information on risk of exposure, infectious doses, symptoms of exposure, how to decon, disinfectants to use, vaccinations, etc.

    43:50 How to Contact Jacqui

    • Go to Zoubek Consulting’s website – they’ll provide Jacqui’s phone number and email address

    Have a question? Send an email to feedback@thehazmatguys.com or leave a message on our Haz Mat Guys comment hotline: 843-628-1484

    Show Sponsors
    Related Episodes

    The Hazmat Guys

    Author: The Hazmat Guys


    1. Hello Mike and Bob, hope you guys are doing well today. The biological facilities podcast caught my interest because we have several BSL 3 labs in our first due territory. If we have a response to one particular facility, their plan is for us to stage outside the facility, wait for someone to update what is going on, and if there is a patient, then we do a secondary decon and transport to a local trauma center with trained hazmat ER personnel. We, as first responders are to never enter the facility unless asked to do so on the scene. I personally would contact our dispatch to find out if this is a medical emergency patient or an exposure patient. We are there, for the most part, secondary decon and transport. I tried to push our department to buy 4 Biocell kits for our transport units but it was a no go. Our local BSL 3 labs have trained personnel on CPR/AED. They would bring the patient to us, completely deconed, near naked, decon a second time, and transport. We would advise the receiving hospital of what we have coming to their facility. Great podcast! Thanks guys!

      • This is excellent information that should be shared with the community. Thanks for listening and sharing.



    Please enter your comment!
    Please enter your name here

    This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.