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Policy#: 529-402

Title: BSL-2: Hand Washing Sink Requirement

Effective: 9/24/2015


UC-Riverside's Institutional Biosafety Committee (IBC) requires that laboratories operating at BSL-2 or higher have a handwashing sink near the exit.  When a laboratory is comprised of connected rooms operating at different biosafety levels, the sink must be located within the area designated for the higher level of biosafety, at the exit to the area designated for lower biosafety level activities.

In open-bay, multi-PI laboratories where the shared area is designated as BSL-1, adjacent rooms may operate at BSL-2 (typically as tissue culture rooms), and a sink will be required at the BSL-2 room's exit.  For activities with established human cell lines, the IBC may consider alternative sink placement, such as outside, but near, the BSL-2 room.

In open-bay labs where the shared area operates at BSL-2, the IBC may restrict some activities to a connected room outfitted with a sink at its exit, depending on the materials and activities involved.

Contemporary research buildings frequently feature large open-bay laboratories with smaller rooms, often tissue culture facilities, located in adjacent rooms.  Additionally, single laboratories may also have smaller rooms designated for tissue culture or other specific activities.  A tissue culture room is a room where a biosafety cabinet is employed to manipulate infectious agents or cell cultures.    When the smaller room is being used to handle BSL-2 (or higher) agents, isolating the room's operations from the open lab reduces the risk of contamination of cell cultures and exposure of personnel to biohazards.

It is important for labs containing higher-risk biological materials to be equipped with appropriate engineering controls, including a handwashing sink.  The requirement for the sink and placement near the exit of BSL-2 areas is prescribed by the CDC/NIH publication, Biosafety in Microbiological and Biomedical Laboratories.

The strategy below was approved by the IBC to ensure that future laboratories are equipped with handwashing sinks in the appropriate location, while not penalizing researchers who already have approval to use tissue culture rooms without sinks.

When a sink will be required
Laboratories with approved BUAs may continue approved activities within approved locations with approved materials without the addition of a sink.
  • The presence or addition of a sink will be required when:
  • The laboratory is part of new construction or a remodeled facility.
  • A previously-approved Biohazard Use Authorization (BUA) is amended to add a new room, new biological materials that are perceived to pose a greater hazard, or materials or procedures that raise the biosafety level of the prior BUA (e.g. BSL-1 to BSL-2 or BSL-2 to BSL-2+).
  • A new BUA is submitted for approval.
When a sink is not required: anterooms
A sink is not required in a tissue culture room operating at BSL-2 or higher if a sink is located in an anteroom.  An anteroom is a room directly adjacent to a tissue culture room whose sole purpose is to provide support for the tissue culture room; an anteroom is not a multipurpose room.

Institutional Review Board (IRB)
Standard Operating Policies and Procedures – coming soon