Frequently Asked Questions - Biosafety

  • How do I get a biosafety cabinet decontaminated?

    Contact us to schedule a time for the technician to come to campus and service your unit.  The email should include:

    • The unit’s manufacturer, model number, and serial number
    • The building and room number
    • Why the unit needs to be decontaminated.

    Note that the unit will likely require re-certification depending on what is done to the unit after decontamination, something that also needs to be coordinated through the Biosafety Office.

  • How do I know whether I need to submit an IBC application or a BMSC application?

    Check out our biosafety protocol submission page to learn more about each of these approval processes.

  • How do I know if I'm enrolled in the BOHP?

    Biosafety will contact you with required trainings and recommended medical monitoring. If it's been an extended period of time since you initially registered, email us with your full name and the PI/professor you registered under and we will let you know if you are indeed registered.

  • Who needs to enroll in the Biosafety Occupational Health Program (BOHP)?

    Anyone working with animals or biological materials. See more information here.

  • What office conducts export control review?
  • Where is Concentra?

    Concentra is located at 688 Spring Street NW, Atlanta, GA 30308.  Physically, it’s located across the interstate, just south of Tech Square and directly north of the Varsity.  If you take the underground tunnel to cross the highway, Concentra will be on your immediate right upon exiting the tunnel and on Spring Street. Their phone number is 404-881-1155.

  • Does Biosafety provide sharps bins?

    No. Labs may purchase these from any lab supply company.

  • How do I turn in my BOHP Confidential Exposure Questionnaire?

    There are a few options:

    • Complete the form electronically and email it to us
    • Drop the form off in person to the receptionist in the IBB front office
    • Drop the form off in person to the receptionist at the EHS main office on the 2nd floor

    More information may be found on the BOHP page.

  • My autoclave is not working. What should I do?

    Follow the standard operating procedure poster posted nearby the autoclave.  Here's what to do:

    1. Call Getinge (1-800-660-1687) to report the problem and provide them the serial number of the autoclave and/or boiler.
    2. Email the Biosafety Office (biosafety@ehs.gatech.edu) indicating: the unit location, the problem, when you notified Getinge and if they have returned your call.
    3. Post the Out of Service sign nearby indicating when you called Getinge to prevent the continued use of a broken autoclave.
  • Is the Lab Safety 101 course the same as the General Biosafety course?

    No, they are different courses offered by different offices within EHS. Lab Safety 101 covers general lab safety topics, while General Biosafety covers the principles and practices of biosafety and how those are applied at Georgia Tech.

  • How do I get a vaccine / titer check / medical test that has been recommended?

    Visit Concentra with the medical recommendations provided to you by the Biosafety Office. They can provide all recommended vaccines or tests that you consent to.

  • How do I get a copy of a biosafety course certificate?

    Email us with:

    • Your full name
    • Which course you need a certificate for
    • What date the course was taken

    We will email you a copy of your certificate. We can only provide records for biosafety trainings. If you need a certificate from another group in EHS, contact someone in that group.

  • Why can't I use an open flame in a BSC?

    There are several reasons why this practice is prohibited:

    • The flame itself creates turbulence within the BSC which will disrupt the airflow inside the unit causing convection rather than intended laminar air flow patterns.  Laminar air patterns maintain both a clean work environment and protect your health from what you’re working with.
    • Cabinets are not designed for high heat; heat that can disrupt electrical equipment within the unit itself and grossly damage the HEPA filter leading to a loss of containment.
    • Most BSCs recirculate a percentage of air, so were the flame to go out, flammable gas would collect within the cabinet and reach explosive concentrations.

    This policy is in accordance with recommendations from numerous agencies including the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the World Health Organization (WHO), and major biosafety cabinet manufacturers themselves.

  • How can I check the last time I took biosafety training?

    Log in to www.trains.gatech.edu and view your own personal transcript. It should have all previously attended courses listed and the dates that they were completed.

  • Who do I call to pick up solid biohazard waste?

    The Hazardous Waste office within EHS picks up biohazardous waste. See more details here.

  • How can I get access to OnSite for biological items?

    Email us (and cc your professor) with the following information:

    • Full name
    • GT ID number
    • GT account
    • PI / professor you are working under
    • Position/title within the laboratory
  • I need more biohazard waste boxes. Who do I contact?

    The Hazardous Waste office provides biohazard waste boxes and the red plastic liners for these boxes. Visit their site for who to contact.

  • What do I need to bring with me to my biological material shipment appointment?

    This information can be found in detail on the Biological Shipments page.  To summarize, on the day of shipment, bring the following to EHS:

    • Material in a secure and sealed inner container, which should be secured in secondary containment (a ziplock bag is sufficient for small quantities)
    • Dry Ice, if applicable
    • Safety information, such as an SDS or MSDS, if applicable
    • All completed paperwork
  • Do I need to autoclave my biological waste first before having it picked up?

    Solid, non-sharp biohazard waste from BSL-1 labs and BSL-2 labs may be disposed of directly into EHS-supplied biohazard waste boxes lined with red biohazard bags. These boxes are decontaminated offsite via incineration.

  • How do I know if I need a Material Transfer Agreement (MTA) for my biological material shipment?

    This determination will be made by the Office of Industry Engagement after they review your paperwork for MTA initiation (i.e., Incoming Material Transfer Initiation Form, Outgoing Material Transfer Initiation Form). They will let you and Biosafety know whether your sample needs an MTA and when an MTA is approved.

  • I'm a non-GT-affiliated student/employee/researcher/visitor, and am required to take biosafety trainings. How do I sign up for these trainings?

    Email us to register for an upcoming classroom session. You will not be able to log in to www.trains.gatech.edu to register. 

  • I need to have my lab coat laundered. How do I do this and who can I call?

    G&K Services currently provides this service for campus. You can reach them at 404-349-2863 for more information, or explore their website.

  • What biosafety trainings do I need to take and how frequently?

    The trainings that are required vary based on what materials you're working with, and all courses require a refresher periodically. See the Biosafety Training page for more details.

  • My biosafety cabinet / laminar flow hood / clean bench is not working properly. What should I do?

    Contact us (and cc your building manager) as soon as possible stating specifically

    • Which unit is down
    • Where the unit is located
    • What issues the unit is reportedly having
    • How long the unit has been malfunctioning.

    Put an out of service sign on the cabinet to prevent others from using it. Biosafety will get a technician on campus as soon as possible.

  • While filling out an IBC application, how do I classify my IBC protocol?

    Go to Section III of the NIH Guidelines for Research Involving Recombinant or Synthetic Nucleic Acid Molecules to determine what category your work falls under. If you need assistance, contact the Biosafety Officer.

  • How often do biosafety cabinets / laminar flow hoods / clean benches need to be recertified?

    All biosafety cabinets, laminar flow hoods, and clean benches must be re-certified on an annual basis, as well as after they are repaired and after they are moved to a new location.  This service is offered through a Biosafety Office managed vendor and can be coordinated through Biosafety.

  • Do I really need an appointment to drop off a biological material shipment?

    Yes, you really do need to schedule an appointment.  Showing up unexpected or trying to coordinate a shipment drop-off the day-of your desired shipment will likely result in disappointment.  All members of the Biosafety Office may be busy or out of the office when you show up to ship without an appointment.  To ensure that someone is available to receive your samples and has reserved time to ship your package, please be sure to schedule an appointment using the Shipping Appointment webform.

  • I'm using OnSite for biological items, but I am having problems with it. What should I do?

    Email us with the issue you are having, with as much detail as possible. Screenshots are very helpful.