Emergency Preparedness

Biological Spill Response

All spills, accidents or releases of pathogens, and/or recombinant or synthetic nucleic acid molecules must be reported to the University´┐Żs Biological Safety Officer at 856-566-6189 or email at boyletp@rowan.edu.

The following outlines the basic procedures for dealing with exposures and some of the biological spills that may be encountered in a biological research laboratory: blood or other human source body fluids, cultures of infectious agents or those containing recombinant or synthetic nucleic acid molecules – bearing microorganisms or cells.

All laboratory personnel should refer to the relevant spill response procedures prior to initiating their experiments.

Response Procedures

The hazard associated with a biological spill is a function of the volume of the spill, the pathogenicity of the agent, and its concentration within the spilled material. When a spill occurs, the appropriate response should consider the protection of students and staff, preventing release of viable biological agents outside of the BSL2 area, and clean-up/decontamination of the area.

A majority of spills are of the type that will be handled by laboratory personnel. For Environmental Health and Safety-assisted spills, the range can run from those incidents requiring only the Biosafety Officer to advise laboratory personnel making a response, to incidents requiring reporting to the National Institutes of Health (NIH) or Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and possible outside assistance.

Biosafety Level 1 (BL1) Spill

Notify others in the area, to prevent contamination of additional personnel and environment. Remove any contaminated clothing and wash exposed skin with disinfectant.

Clean-up of BL1 Spill

  • Wearing gloves, lab coat, and face protection, cover spill with paper towels, pour concentrated disinfectant around the spill allowing it to mix with spilled material. Allow suitable contact time.
  • Pick up any pieces of broken glass with forceps and place in a sharps container.
  • Discard all disposable materials used to clean up the spill into a biohazard autoclave bag.
  • Wash hands with soap and hand-washing disinfectant.

Biosafety Level 2 (BL2) Spill

Avoid inhaling airborne material, while quickly leaving the room. Notify others to leave. Close door, and post with a warning sign.

Remove contaminated clothing, turning exposed areas inward, and place in a biohazard bag. Wash all exposed skin with soap and water. Inform Supervisor, and, if assistance is needed, contact the University Biological Safety Officer.

Reporting of Spills Involving recombinant or synthetic nucleic acid molecules

Spills or accidents in BSL2 laboratories involving recombinant or synthetic nucleic acid molecules resulting in an overt exposure must be immediately reported to EHS.

EHS will assist in reporting the incident to the NIH Office of Biotechnology Activities (OBA) as required under the NIH Guidelines for Research Involving Recombinant or Synthetic Nucleic Acids Molecules (NIH Guidelines).

Clean-up of BL2 Spill

  • Allow aerosols to disperse for at least 30 minutes before reentering the laboratory. Assemble clean-up materials (disinfectant, paper towels, biohazard bags, and forceps).
  • Put on protective clothing (lab coat, face protection, utility gloves, and booties if necessary). Depending on the nature of the spill, it may be advisable to wear a HEPA filtered respirator instead of a surgical mask.
  • Cover the area with disinfectant-soaked towels, and then carefully pour disinfectant around the spill. Avoid enlarging the contaminated area. Use more concentrated disinfectant as it is diluted by the spill. Allow at least a 20 minute contact time.
  • Pick up any sharp objects with forceps and discard in a sharps container. Soak up the disinfectant and spill using mechanical means, such as an autoclavable broom and dustpan, since there may be sharps under the paper towels, and place the materials into a sharps container. Smaller pieces of glass may be collected with cotton or paper towels held with forceps. If no sharps were involved in the spill discard the materials into an autoclave bag.
  • Wipe surrounding areas (where the spill may have splashed) with disinfectant.
  • Soak up the disinfectant and spill, and place the materials into a biohazard bag.
  • Spray the area with 10% household bleach solution and allow to air-dry (or wipe down with disinfectant-soaked towels after a 10-minute contact time). Place all contaminated paper towels and any contaminated protective clothing into a biohazard bag and autoclave.
  • Wash hands and exposed skin areas with disinfectant or antiseptic soap and water.

Blood Spills

For blood or other material with a high organic content and low concentration of infectious microorganisms:

  • Wear gloves, eye protection, and a lab coat.
  • Absorb blood with paper towels and place in a biohazard bag. Collect any sharp objects with forceps or other mechanical device and place in a sharps container.
  • Using a detergent solution, clean the spill site of all visible blood.
  • Spray the spill site with 10% household bleach and allow to air-dry for 15 minutes.
  • After the 15 minute contact time, wipe the area down with disinfectant-soaked paper towels.
  • Discard all disposable materials used to decontaminate the spill and any contaminated personal protective equipment into a biohazard bag.
  • Wash your hands.

Spill Inside the Biological Safety Cabinet

Have a complete biological spill kit ready to go before starting the clean up.

  • LEAVE THE CABINET ON!!!!
  • Wear a lab coat, safety goggles, appropriate respiratory protection and gloves during clean up.
  • Soak up spilled material with disposable paper towels (work surface and drain basin) and apply disinfectant with a minimum of 10 minutes contact time.
  • Wipe up spillage and disinfectant with disposable paper towels.
    • Wipe the walls, work surface and any equipment in the cabinet with a disinfectant soaked paper towel.
    • Discard contaminated disposable materials in biohazard bag(s) and autoclave before discarding as waste.
    • Place contaminated reusable items in biohazard bags, or heat resistant pans before autoclaving and further clean up.
    • Expose non-autoclavable materials to disinfectant, 10 minutes contact time, before removal from the BSC.
    • Remove protective clothing used during cleanup and place in a biohazard bag for further processing by laundry.
    • Run cabinet at least 10 minutes after clean up and before resuming work.
    • Inform all users of the BSC as well as the laboratory supervisor about the spill and successful clean up as soon as possible.

Spill Inside a Centrifuge

Have a complete biological spill kit ready to go before starting the clean up.

  • Clear area of all personnel. Wait 30 minutes for aerosol to settle before attempting to clean up the spill.
  • Wear a lab coat, safety goggles, appropriate respiratory protection and gloves during clean up.
  • Remove rotors and buckets to the nearest biological safety cabinet. The rotors and buckets will also need to be properly decontaminated.
  • Thoroughly disinfect inside of centrifuge.
  • Remove contaminated debris after disinfection, place in appropriate biohazardous waste container(s) and autoclave before disposal.

Composition of a Basic Spill Kit

Microbiological and biomedical research laboratories should prepare and maintain and biological spill kit. A spill kit is an essential safety item for all laboratories working with microbiological agents requiring Biological Safety Level 2 (BSL2) and higher as well as for groups working with large volumes (>1 liter) of recombinant or synthetic nucleic acid molecules. The following items should be included in the spill kit:

  • Concentrated household bleach
  • A container for making a 10% bleach solution
  • Forceps, broom, dust pan, or other mechanical devices for handling sharps
  • Paper towels or other suitable absorbent material
  • Biohazard bags for the collection of contaminated spill clean-up items
  • Utility gloves and medical examination gloves
  • Sharps container

A 1/10 dilution of household bleach, prepared fresh daily is effective in most situations. Contact EHS for more information about selection of disinfectants, particularly for any organisms suspected of being atypical in their sensitivity to disinfectants.

Disinfectants should be registered with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency as "tuberculocidal" to meet the minimum requirements of the Occupational Health & Safety Administration's Bloodborne Pathogens Standard. The EPA list of approved disinfecting agents can be found at EPA web site.

EHS is available to answer any questions regarding biological spill response procedures or decontamination.

Exposure Incidents

  • Glassboro Campuses – Emergency: dial 9-1-1 or report to closest Emergency Room. ALL needlesticks/bloodborne pathogen exposures report to the closest Emergency Room.
    • Faculty, Staff, and House Staff: Non-emergency: Report to the Wellness Center, Winans Hall (201 Mullica Hill Road, Glassboro; 856-256-4333) to initiate paperwork with supervisor and report to the WC provider, WorkNet (601 North Main Street, Glassboro- 856-881-5800)
    • Students: Report to Wellness Center, Winans Hall (201 Mullica Hill R., Glassboro; 856-256-4333)
  • Camden Campuses – Emergency: dial 9-1-1 or report to closest Emergency Room. ALL needlestick/bloodborne pathogen exposures report to the closest Emergency Room.
    • Faculty and Staff: Non-emergency: initiate paperwork with supervisor and report to the WC provider, WorkNet (300 South Broadway #101, Camden; 856-342-2990)
    • Students: initiate paperwork with supervisor and report to the WC provider, WorkNet (300 South Broadway #101, Camden; 856-342-2990)
  • Stratford Campuses – Emergency: dial 9-1-1 or report to closet Emergency Room. ALL needlesticks/bloodborne pathogen exposures report to the closest Emergency Room.
    • Faculty, Staff, and House Staff: Non-emergency: initiate paperwork with Human Resources who will direct you to Rowan SOM's WC provider, WorkNet (37 South White Horse Pike, Stratford 856-435-2680)
    • Students: ALL needlestick/bloodborne pathogen exposures contact Garden State Infectious Disease (709 Haddonfield-Berlin Road, Voorhees; 856-566-3190) immediately. Non-emergency: Report to Family Medicine, 2nd Floor University Doctor's Pavilion for post exposure evaluation. This facility is open Monday through Friday from 8:00am to 5:00pm. If WorkNet is not available or if exposure occurs after hours or on the weekend, report to the closest Emergency Room.