Work with Biological Toxins
- Experiments should be planned to eliminate or minimize work with dry, powdered toxin. Dry toxin must be manipulated using containment equipment such as a disposable glove bag, chemical fume hood or a biological safety cabinet.
- Evaluate and modify experimental procedures to reduce or eliminate the possibility of aerosolizing solutions containing toxin
- For complex operations, new workers may want to perform practice runs in which the procedures are rehearsed without active toxin
- Work with toxins should only be done only in laboratories with controlled access and at pre-determined bench areas. When toxins are in use, the room should be clearly posted: “Toxins in Use—Authorized Personnel Only.”
- Containers used for toxin storage should be sealed, labeled, and secured to ensure restricted access
- Consideration should be given to requiring the presence of at least two knowledgeable individuals at all times in the laboratory for high-risk operations, e.g., manipulations with dry forms of toxins, intentional aerosol formation, and the use of hollow-bore needles in conjunction with amounts of toxin estimated to be lethal for humans
Research groups that uses toxins must augment the laboratory Chemical Hygiene Plan with a Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) for the toxin or class of toxins. The researcher should be sufficiently adept at the planned experimental procedures before working with the toxin.
- Storage location and security
- Areas designated for work
- Glove choice based on how the toxin is solubilized (aqueous buffer or organic solvent)
- Methods to transfer liquids containing toxin
- Deactivation methods
- Routine decontamination of laboratory surfaces and equipment
- Solid and liquid waste disposal procedures
- Spill cleanup procedures