Rutgers University has a contract for biological safety cabinets (BSC), and all other HEPA filtered engineering controls such as animal caging racks, HEPA filters on exhaust ducts and other stand-alone units. REHS manages this contract and coordinates the certification of all biological safety cabinets.

Biological safety cabinets must be certified annually for all areas working with materials categorized as biosafety level two (BSL2) and higher. Laboratories working at biosafety level one (BSL1) are strongly encouraged to certify their cabinets annually as a best practice and to ensure product protection. Recertification of biosafety cabinets is also required after repairs, or after relocation of a cabinet.

The use of Bunsen burners or other flame devices in a biological safety cabinet or laminar flow hood is not recommended for the following reasons:

  • The Class II BSC has laminar air movement inside the cabinet which offers product protection. There is a HEPA filter inside that filters all air that is inside the workspace, thus eliminating the need to flame sterilize.
  • The open flame disrupts the airflow, compromising the protection of the worker and the product.
  • An open flame can melt the bonding agent that holds the HEPA filter to its frame. This destroys the effectiveness of the HEPA filtration and also causes a loss of containment in the plenum.
  • If the flame were to go out, and the valve was not shut off, gas could build up in the cabinet, reaching explosive proportions, which poses a serious risk to the worker, the rest of the laboratory staff, and the building as a whole.
  • The air movement in the cabinet causes the flame to move around. This can lead to increased burn risk to personnel or lighting of paper materials on fire. Fires have occurred at Rutgers due to Bunsen burners in cabinets.
  • Use of open flames inside the cabinet will most often void the warranty of the cabinet by the manufacturer.

Approved alternatives to Bunsen Burners:

  • Bacti-Cinerator
  • Glass Bead Sterilizer
  • Use of disposable plastic-ware
  • Use of pre-sterilized inoculating loops, spreaders, and needles
  • Use of pre-autoclaved forceps, tweezers, scalpels, etc. in covered autoclavable containers or sleeves

Questions and concerns regarding cabinet certification, repair, and proper use of biological safety cabinets should be referred to the Biosafety Group at