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What is a biohazard?

Biological hazards, (also referred to as biohazards,) are biological substances that are dangerous and can pose a threat to the life or well-being of a living organism, (primarily humans,) that come into contact with them. Biohazards can include a variety of hazardous substances that can be detrimental to human health, such as medical waste, viruses or bodily fluids. In this article, we look at how to identify a biohazard, understand the different levels of threat they pose, and how to safely remove them.

Biohazardous waste can be identified relatively easily, if you know what you are looking for. Examples of biohazardous waste include:

It is important to note that you should take every precaution not to come into contact with biohazardous material if you have not received the correct training.  Through coming into contact with a biohazard, you are putting yourself a risk of contracting potential life-threatening diseases and viruses, such as HIV and Hepatitis.

It is for this reason you should always contact a professional if you have come across a potentially biohazardous material, in order for it to be dealt with in the safest, quickest and most secure way possible.

According to ‘The centre of disease control’, there are four levels of biohazards, based on their risk factors and how much damage they can cause.

  1. Biohazard level 1: These are agents that pose minimal potential hazard to personnel and the environment, such as E. coli. These are usually defined as organisms, that are unlikely to cause disease. Upon removal, these will require the use of PPE, decontamination of all surfaces after work is complete, and biohazard signs to be displayed.
  • Biohazard level 2: The agents in this category are usually associated with human disease and pose moderate hazards, with varying risks, to people and the environment, an example of such diseases are influenza, HIV and Lyme disease. PPE must be worn when removing these types of hazards, along with biohazard signs being displayed, and all procedures which can lead to infection should be performed within a biological safety cabinet.
  • Biohazard level 3: These are indigenous or foreign agents that pose a serious or life-threatening risk. They are high containment, and can cause serious diseases such as tuberculosis. When dealing with a level 3 situation, procedures must be performed which include wearing PPE with solid front wraparound gowns or scrub suits. All work with microbes must be performed within a relative BSC, and a sustained directional air flow should be ensured to draw air into the laboratory from clean areas to contaminated areas.
  • Biohazard level 4: This level refers to dangerous and exotic agents, of which pose a serious risk of life threatening and highly contagious diseases such the Ebola virus. They are aerosol transmitted laboratory infections, and have a very high risk of lethality. Personnel are required to change clothing and shower when exiting the contaminated area. All materials should also be decontaminated before exiting, PPE must also be worn at all times, including a full body, air supplied, positive pressure suit.

Whenever you think you have encountered biohazardous waste or material, it is always best to contact professionals to deal with it in the safest and most efficient way possible. Through contacting Swift Cleaning Solutions, you can be certain that we will deal with the situation thoroughly, safely and efficiently.

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