Biosafety refers to the application of safety precautions that reduce the risk of exposure to a potentially infectious agent and limit contamination of the work environment and, ultimately, the community.

If you are a Principle Investigator doing research that involves the use of recombinant DNA, biohazardous materials and biological toxins you must complete a Biological Use Authorization (BUA) and submit it to the Institutional Biosafety Committee for review and approval before commencing use of the qualifying agent.

Questions about this process can be addressed to    

Biosafety Levels

SJSU has Biosafety Level 1 (BSL-1) and Biosafety Level 2 (BSL-2) labs on campus.  Each biosafety level has its own specific containment controls that are require specified laboratory practices, safety equipment and/or facility construction.

Biosafety Level 1

Microbes here are not known to consistently cause disease in healthy adults and present minimal potential hazard to lab workers and the environment. An example of a microbe that is typically worked with at a BSL-1 is a nonpathogenic strain of E. coli.

Specific considerations for a BSL-1 laboratory must include, at a minimum, the following lab practices and facility construction:

  • Standard microbiological practices are followed
  • Work can be performed on an open lab bench or table
  • Personal protective equipment (lab coats, gloves, eye protection) are worn as needed
  • A sink must be available for hand washing
  • The lab should have doors to separate the working space with the rest of the facility

Biosafety Level 2

BSL-2 builds upon BSL-1. If you work in a lab that is designated a BSL-2, the microbes there pose moderate hazards to lab workers and the environment. The microbes are typically indigenous and associated with diseases of varying severity. An example of a microbe that is typically worked with at a BSL-2 laboratory is Staphylococcus aureus.

In addition to BSL-1 considerations, BSL-2 laboratories have the following containment requirements:

  • Access to the laboratory is restricted when work is being conducted.
  • Appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE) is worn, including lab coats and gloves. Eye protection and face shields can also be worn, as needed.
  • All procedures that can cause infection from aerosols or splashes are performed within a biological safety cabinet (BSC) .
  • An autoclave or an alternative method of decontamination is available for proper disposals.
  • The laboratory has self-closing doors.
  • A sink and eyewash are readily available.

Additional Resources

Biohazard Decontamination Guidelines [pdf]

Biohazard Small Spill Response [pdf]

Biosafety Cabinet Operational Guidelines [pdf]