Biological Safety

The University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign (UIUC) is committed to protecting the health and safety of its faculty, staff, students, visitors, and environment by appropriately identifying and managing biological hazards. The campus shall comply with all applicable regulatory requirements, conform to current recommendations of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) with respect to minimum standards, and adopt additional biological safety policies as appropriate. The control of exposures to biological materials, including recombinant DNA molecules, will be accomplished by establishing a biological safety program containing work practices, waste disposal procedures, and policies that provide a safe and healthy environment. See Division of Resesarch Safety, Biological Safety for additional information.

Biological Safety Section

The Biological Safety Section of the Division of Research Safety (DRS) shall develop, implement, and oversee a comprehensive campus biosafety program to ensure the proper handling, transport, and disposal of biological materials. The Section will partner with faculty, staff, and students to promote teaching, research, and service by facilitating the control of hazards inherent in the use of biological materials for those purposes. The Biological Safety Section will also advise and assist faculty, staff, and students in the interpretation and implementation of these policies and programs as well as regulatory requirements that pertain to biological safety.

Biological Safety Committee

The Biological Safety Committee shall serve as the Institutional Biosafety Committee for the campus, as required by the NIH Guidelines for Research Involving Recombinant or Synthetic Nucleic Acid Molecules. The Biological Safety Committee will be advisory on matters relating to the safe handling, transport, use and disposal of biological materials, including recombinant DNA molecules, on the campus. The committee will report to the Vice Chancellor for Research through the DRS.

Hazardous Biological Materials

The campus recognizes the need to protect faculty, staff, students, visitors, and the community at-large from hazardous biological materials used on campus. The term biohazard includes agents presenting a risk or potential risk to the well-being of man or animals, either directly through infection or indirectly through disruption of the environment. Plant, animal or human pathogens, human materials, nonhuman primate materials, wild mammal materials, and biotoxins may all be considered biohazards. All activities involving biohazards must be registered with and approved by the Biological Safety Committee prior to initiation.

Recombinant DNA

Recombinant DNA activities at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign are subject to the National Institutes of Health “Guidelines for Research Involving Recombinant or Synthetic Nucleic Acid Molecules” irrespective of funding source. Such activities also include work with transgenic organisms. It is the responsibility of all faculty, staff, students, and visitors engaged in recombinant DNA protocols to be familiar with and adhere to these guidelines. In order ensure compliance with the “Guidelines for Research Involving Recombinant DNA Molecules”, all recombinant DNA work must be registered with and approved by the Biological Safety Committee prior to initiation. Penalties for University/Principal Investigator noncompliance may result in: (i) suspension, limitation, or termination of NIH funds for recombinant DNA research on campus, or (ii) a requirement for prior NIH approval of any or all recombinant DNA projects on campus.

Biohazard Warning Signs

The international biohazard symbol must be used to signify the actual presence or potential presence of a biohazard; and to identify equipment, containers, rooms, materials, experimental animals, or combinations thereof, which contain, or are contaminated with, viable hazardous agents [29 CFR 1910.145(e)(4)]. A biohazard warning door sign should be posted at access points to facilities where the following hazards are present:

  1. Organisms requiring biosafety level 2 (BL2) or above precautions according to the latest information from the NIH, CDC, and the United States Department of Agriculture.
  2. Recombinant DNA molecules classified as BL2 or above according to the NIH “Guidelines for Research Involving Recombinant DNA Molecules.”

Signs should be prominently placed so they can be easily seen by anyone entering the facility. Biohazard signs and labels should not be used in a manner inconsistent with their intended applications as prescribed above. Improperly posted biohazard signs will be removed. Once activities requiring a biohazard sign are completed and the agents are no longer present, it is the responsibility of the investigator to remove the signs and notify the Biological Safety Section. The Biological Safety Section controls the use of the standard biohazard warning door signs on campus. Requests for biohazard warning signs for room postings should be forwarded to the Biological Safety Section and should contain information to identify the nature of the hazard; names, locations, and phone numbers of individuals responsible for its control; and precautionary measures pertaining to the particular hazard.

Biological Material Disposal

All items designated as “sharps” by the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency must be placed immediately upon disposal into an approved sharps disposal container. All non-sharp laboratory materials utilized in experiments with biological materials (e.g., microorganisms, recombinant DNA, animal or human tissues, cell cultures, etc.) must be treated prior to disposal by an approved decontamination method such as autoclaving. If autoclaving is used, waste materials should be collected in an autoclavable bag that is stored in a container displaying the international biohazard label. Pathological waste includes animal carcasses, tissues and organs; and human tissues and organs. Certain types of pathological waste must be disposed of by incineration.

All of the following animals and tissues or organs from these animals must be incinerated:

  1. Any animal inoculated with infectious agents
  2. Transgenic animals, potentially transgenic animals, “no-takes” in the production of transgenic animals, and off-spring of transgenic animals
  3. All sheep and goats
  4. Small research animals (e.g., cats, dogs, rabbits, rats, mice, birds, etc.)
  5. Human tissues or organs

There are no exceptions to this policy without prior notification and approval by the Biological Safety Committee.

Occupational Exposure to Bloodborne Pathogens

In compliance with OSHA regulation 29 CFR 1910.1030 “Occupational Exposure to Bloodborne Pathogens”, as adopted by the Illinois Department of Labor, campus developed a Campuswide Exposure Control Plan that provides policies and guidance to protect workers with occupational exposure to blood and other potentially infectious materials. All employees should adhere to the Campuswide Exposure Control Plan as applicable. In addition to the Campuswide Exposure Control Plan, each campus unit with occupationally exposed employees should have a written, unit-specific, exposure control plan that specifies information regarding unit procedures not detailed in the Campuswide Exposure Control Plan. All occupationally exposed employees must be provided training upon assignment to tasks with occupational exposure. Annual refresher training must also be provided. Biological Safety Section can provide training sessions that cover information outlined in the Campuswide Exposure Control Plan, but each campus unit with occupationally exposed employees is responsible for reviewing unit-specific procedures on an annual basis with such employees.

Research-related Incidents

Campus policy requires that significant biological research-related incidents be reported immediately to the Biological Safety Committee via the Biological Safety Section. Such incidents include research-related accidents and illnesses as well as inadvertent release or improper disposal of biohazardous or recombinant DNA materials. The Biological Safety Section can be contacted at (217) 333-2755 and

Further questions concerning this policy statement should be directed to the Biological Safety Section at (217) 333-2755.