International Biosafety Month-2022

October is the American Biological Safety Association (ABSA) International’s Biosafety Month.  Launched in 2013, this initiative was created to promote awareness of biosafety, biosecurity, and biorisk management as a profession and to help those who work with or around biohazards understand how biosafety precautions work to protect them, their colleagues, and the environment from biohazard risks.

Yale EHS is promoting International Biosafety Month electronically this year through this website, which will be updated anytime new innovative or pertinent information is identified through October 2023, when it will be updated with the new theme for next year’s version. 

For more information, visit the ABSA International Biosafety and Biosecurity Month website.

See the 2021 International Biosafety Webpage.

ABSA International Biosafety Month

This year, ABSA International’s goal for the 9th anniversary of national biosafety and biosecurity month is to “refocus on ethical research, transparency, training, engagement and stewardship of biosafety and biosecurity.” Biosafety and Biosecurity month starts in October of each year and runs through 12 months.

This year our topics to focus on are:

Self-Guided (or EHS assisted) Biosafety Training Exercises

In previous years, Yale EHS has engaged members of the Yale community through outreach fairs, where key biosafety and other safety preventive measures were on display at all three campuses.  The last few years have made it difficult to put on safety fairs, so EHS has decided to offer opportunities for labs or groups to bring part of the fairs back to their own work locations.  The same exercises that individuals have participated in at our fairs to reinforce key biosafety messages are available for use by your group.  These materials and procedures for these interactive exercises can be borrowed from Yale EHS for use by your group.  You can also request an EHS representative to come to your group to conduct them as well.  The following exercises and materials are available for use!  Please note that as the supplies are similar for many of the exercises, your group can easily do more than one.

Contact your EHS Safety Advisor or the Biosafety Office to borrow the training materials needed for these exercises.

Handwashing Challenge

Are you and your colleagues washing your hands with soap and water for 25 to 30 seconds after removing personal protective equipment and before leaving the laboratory or the restroom? Borrow Glogerm dye and UV lights from Yale EHS to conduct a live demonstration for your group to check the effectiveness of hand washing techniques. Simply place a dime size of Glogerm on your hands, spread them over your hands, and then wash your hands. After washing and drying, use the UV light to check to see if contamination has been removed. Don’t forget to check the sink and faucet handles.


  • Glogerm
  • Handheld UV light
  • SDS for Glogerm
  • UV light basic safety info
  • All wear safety glasses, a lab coat and gloves when performing the exercises involving dyes and UV light.

Additional Resources:

Glove Removal Challenge

Are you removing your gloves in a manner that doesn’t possibly spread contaminants to your skin? You can check your aseptic technique with this simple quick exercise. Ask your colleagues to put on their gloves. Place a dime size amount of Glogerm on the exterior of the gloves and ask them to spread the dye over the exterior of the gloves. Then ask your colleagues to remove their gloves without spreading contamination to their hands. Use the UV light after glove removal to check to see if their glove removal was a success. Contact EHS to obtain the supplies for this exercise.


  • Glogerm
  • Handheld UV light
  • All wear safety glasses, a lab coat, and gloves when performing the exercises involving dyes and UV light

View this video to demonstrate how to remove gloves without allowing your skin to contact the exterior of the glove. 

You can also demonstrate this technique or your own to show the class how to safely remove gloves prior to starting the exercise.

Glove Leak Check

This exercise has been developed to check to see if your own supply of gloves meets, or is better than the leak rate allowed by the FDA for exam gloves, like the ones worn in your laboratory. The FDA currently allows exam gloves to have a 2.5% leak rate when sold. This equates to a leak on 1 glove from a pair in one out of every 20 pairs of gloves that you may wear in your lifetime. That is a breach that would be capable of allowing a biohazard to gain access through the glove BEFORE it is even worn. This is why most labs working with biohazards will wear two pairs of gloves.

The target goal to try to get enough data for making a comparison is to test at least 20 pairs of gloves. If you only have two people, then each person should repeat the test 10 times. 

First check the exterior of each person’s hands with a UV light to make sure there is nothing already on the person’s hands that is already fluorescing, as a “background” check. The Glogerm provided will normally be either white or orange and should appear this color under UV light. 

Place 4 to 5 drops of Glogerm (or other dye provided by Yale EHS) on the palm of a person’s gloved hand. The Glogerm should be wiped all over the exterior of both gloves. Once the dye has been spread “all over” the surfaces of each glove, WAIT AT LEAST 30 SECONDS. Then ask the participant to  remove their gloves after 30 seconds, but in a manner that will not allow the skin of the researcher to touch the exterior of the glove. 

After gloves are removed, examine the person’s hands very closely with the UV light (and you may need to shut off the lights to help visualize any smaller spots). A leak could appear like a very tiny fluorescent dot, or a smear. Look for leaks that would be below the glove surface. Finding dye around the wrist are not leaks coming through the glove, but will likely be accidental contact of the skin here while removing the gloves.

Keep track of any “leaks” that you find below each glove.  When you get through testing all 20 pairs, calculate your percent leak rate. If you get the FDA leak rate, you will find a leak in 1 out of 40 gloves, or 0.025 (2.5%).


  • Glogerm
  • Handheld UV light
  • All wear safety glasses, a lab coat and gloves when performing the exercises involving dyes and UV light

Decontamination Challenge

This exercise evaluates how well all surfaces of an item have been decontaminated. It is actually used by infection preventionists (infection control professionals) in hospitals to examine how well rooms are cleaned and disinfected in between patients, but can also be used in a lab or non-lab environment at Yale. The person leading the exercise, will use the dye (or product that fluoresces under UV Light, Tide With Bleach is one such example) to privately mark a piece of equipment that is decontaminated after use. This could be a transport container, the interior of the biosafety cabinet, a lab bench, tools or other items. The person leading the drill will put on gloves and use a paintbrush to spread the dye in secret locations inside the biosafety cabinet, the bench or on equipment. Mark with an “X”, an “O” or just an invisible streak.  Ask the participant perform the decontamination and then check to see how well it was done with the UV light afterwards.


  • Glogerm or other dye
  • Paint brush
  • Handheld UV light
  • All wear safety glasses, a lab coat and gloves when performing the exercises involving dyes and UV light.

Biosafety Cabinet 100 Feet Per Minute Airflow Demonstration

This incredibly simple exercise is an eye opener for any who don’t realize that the airflow entering the biosafety cabinet is only 100 feet per minute (fpm). The barrier created by this inward airflow curtain is a big part of what protects the worker from exposure and their research materials from contamination. Knowledge of this airflow rate is important to raise awareness of activities or situations that can interfere with safe use of this critical engineering control.

Use a tape measure to find a area 25 feet long. This could be a hallway, large conference room, foyer, or other safe location to conduct this exercise. Place tape at the start and end of your 25-foot track. Ask a volunteer to walk at the same pace so that they arrive at the 25-foot mark in exactly 15 seconds (like walking 100 feet in 60 seconds). This could take a few tries, or have different people try it. It is helpful for one person to use their watch or phone to keep track of the 15 seconds and give feedback like too fast, too slow, or just right. Ask colleagues how they felt after walking 25 feet in 15 seconds. Give all who participate a “walk like a turtle” sticker to reward them for their participation.


  • 25-foot tape measure
  • “Walk Like a Turtle” stickers

Additional Resources:

Mock Biohazard Spill Exercise

Get ready to exercise those biohazard spill kits that your lab has tucked away somewhere. Use the biohazard spill training supplies to set up a spill to start with, or use the supplies to have a group member create a mock live spill. Use this exercise to check the group’s knowledge of the biohazard spill response procedures. This exercise does take more time than the others. A Yale EHS representative can facilitate this for your group, but your group can also do this on its own.

Instructions for the following can be shared with the participants before or after the exercise can be found below.


  • Glogerm
  • Handheld UV light
  • Plastic pieces (mock sharps)
  • Your lab’s biohazard spill kit
  • Your lab’s personal protective equipment.
  • All wear safety glasses, a lab coat, and gloves when performing the exercises involving dyes and UV light.

The spill can be set up before the exercise, or can be staged to create a live but “mock” spill of dye from a flask with the top on loose. The “staged” spill can start on the floor with the liquid and mock glass. Participants can be told that the spill of a biohazard (pick the one you are working with here) just happened and then can be asked what should they do?  Use the spill response evaluation checklist provided by Yale EHS (above) to gauge how well the spill response protocols are followed.

If you are dropping the dye from a flask or tube with the cap left on loose, or a well plate filled with dye, see if the participants check for “dye” contamination on the lower pant legs, socks, or shoes, as these are likely areas to be contaminated with a spill that involves the dropping of a container housing biohazardous liquid.

Laboratory Biosecurity

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the National Institutes of Health (NIH) define laboratory biosecurity as “measures designed to prevent loss, theft, or deliberate misuse of biological material, technology, or research related information for laboratories or laboratory associated facilities.”  CDC/NIH Biosafety in Microbiological and Biomedical Laboratories, 6th Edition.  Please see Section VI of this document for more information from the CDC and NIH on laboratory biosecurity.

Laboratory biosecurity begins with the identification of high-risk biological materials (HRB) or valuable biological materials (VBM) with consideration of what could happen if these materials were to get into the wrong hands. What is critical may vary between laboratories and could range from proprietary information that could be patented, to materials that could be used to cause harm.

Locked doors, locked cold storage or other units, lock boxes, an inventory, and restricted access are foundational elements of Laboratory Biosecurity.

Once HRBs and VBMs are identified, laboratory biosecurity starts with ensuring access to them is limited only to those individuals involved in the research. Locking laboratory access doors whenever the lab is unoccupied is the simplest security measure. This is also important to protect personal items, such as electronics, bags or backpacks, and jackets from theft. 

Keeping an inventory of HRBs and VBMs is also critical. An inventory should include the material by name or code if you do not wish to have a record of the materials by name. In addition, the inventory should list the total number of containers, the volume within each primary container, their specific location (e.g., freezer number, shelf or rack, number, and box and sample number), and a record of  who has access to them and who has accessed them. The inventory should be updated each time HRBs and VBMs are accessed.  Some biowarfare or select agent toxins are recommended to have at least two individuals present each time the materials are accessed, and updated after the access to add, delete or just conduct a periodic confirmation check to verify the inventory. Tamper tape can be placed over the containers housing the HRBs or VBMs and dated. This is one way to help ensure that the materials have not been accessed in between inventories.

Sample Inventory Record Sheets:

Lock boxes, similar to the plexiglass containers used to secure radioactive materials, or metal lockout/tagout boxes can be used to protect primary containers of HRBs and VBMs. All cold storage or other storage units housing HRBs or VBMs should be labeled and part of the inventory. All cold storage units should be lockable. Please reach out to Yale EHS if your cold storage unit for these materials is not lockable.  Also note that some manufacturers use a universal lock and one single key for all of their cold storage units, notably -80C freezers. The manufacturer’s key may not be suitable for securing VBMs or HRBs and a second locking mechanism may need to be installed. Please notify Yale EHS if this is the case. 

Report an inventory discrepancy of HRBs or VBMs to EHS promptly. Also report any suspicious activity around your building or lab. This includes finding unknown individuals walking around your laboratory. Please contact Yale Security, Yale Police and/or Yale EHS for assistance in these situations. Also report any troubling behavior identified inside your lab, such as arguments between co-workers or disgruntled individuals to these groups. 

Train all staff with access to HRBs or VBMs upon arrival to your laboratory and periodically thereafter. It is recommended that exit interviews be held with staff when the leave the laboratory to review the materials that they have generated in the lab. Determine what will be taken, what will remain in the lab’s inventory, and what will be destroyed or discarded. This discussion should occur each time a representative leaves the lab with the site inventory updated following the meeting.

Use the HRB Laboratory Exit Interview Checklist in your exit interview discussion.

The World Health Organization, and the Centers for Disease Control and the National Institutes of Health have developed guidance documents for laboratory biosecurity. 

International Poliovirus Eradication Effort

The World Health Organization (WHO) is close to eradicating poliovirus from the planet. There are still incidents in both developed and developing countries, but each year, they get closer and closer to the goal of complete eradication. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is leading the eradication efforts in the United States. The Risk Group for poliovirus is currently Risk Group 2. After eradiation, it will likely be raised to Risk Group 3. The CDC is currently polling all laboratories in the United States to identify who has wildtype poliovirus, or high risk potentially infectious poliovirus containing materials (PIM). PIM includes fecal specimens, respiratory and related specimens, and wastewater samples that were taken at a time and place where poliovirus or circulating vaccine derived poliovirus may have been circulating.

Yale EHS has created an online poliovirus survey questionnaire to help identify poliovirus and PIM. Over 700 lab groups have completed the survey at Yale. Any new Principal Investigators are assigned this questionnaire upon arrival at Yale.

To check if you have completed your poliovirus survey, check your EHS Integrator Dashboard.

To date, no polioviruses or high-risk PIM have been identified at Yale. Yale EHS will continue to survey labs and notify the CDC of its findings. The WHO and the CDC plan to minimize the number of labs in the world that have poliovirus or PIM. They are urging labs who have higher risk materials to destroy them or transfer them to other facilities that are registered or will be registered as an “Essential Poliovirus Laboratory.”

Information on the Poliovirus Eradication Initiative can be found at the following website or documents:

Please notify Yale EHS if you have any questions or find poliovirus in your freezers or old collections that may contain respiratory, fecal or wastewater specimens.