Biosafety level

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A biosafety level is the level of the biocontainment precautions required to isolate dangerous biological agents in an enclosed facility. The levels of containment range from the lowest biosafety level 1 to the highest at level 4. In the United States, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) have specified these levels.[1] In the European Union, the same biosafety levels are defined in a directive.[2]



The first prototype Class III cabinet was fashioned in 1943 by Hubert Kaempf Jr., then a U.S. Army soldier, under the direction of Dr. Arnold G. Wedum, Director (1944–69) of Industrial Health and Safety at the United States Army Biological Warfare Laboratories, Fort Detrick, Maryland. Kaempf was tired of his MP duties at Detrick and was able to transfer to the sheet metal department working with the contractor, the H.K. Ferguson Co.[3]

On 18 April 1955, fourteen representatives met in Camp Detrick in Frederick, Maryland. The meeting was to share knowledge and experiences regarding biosafety, chemical, radiological, and industrial safety issues that were common to the operations at the three principal biological warfare (BW) laboratories of the U.S. Army[4][5] Because of the potential implication of the work conducted at biological warfare laboratories, the conferences was restricted to top level security clearances. Begininning in 1957, these conferences were planned to include non-classified sessions as well as classified sessions to enable broader sharing of biological safety information. It was not until 1964, however, that conferences were held in a government installation not associated with a biological warfare program.[6]

Over the first ten years, the biological safety conferences grew to include representatives from all federal agencies that sponsored or conducted research with pathogenic microorganisms. By 1966 it grew to include representatives from universities, private laboratories, hospitals, and industrial complexes. Throughout the 1970s participations in the conferences continued to grow, and by 1983 discussions began considering the creation of a formal organization.[6]

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