Equipment that is destined for surplus must be properly decontaminated from chemical, biological, or radiological hazards.
All personnel are asked to bear in mind that the surplus warehouse workers have no special knowledge about laboratory practices and potential contaminants. When they receive something from a lab that looks dirty, they must assume a hazardous contaminant.
These items going to surplus, if not purchased by another department on campus, are auctioned off to the general public, so items must be cleaned out and decontaminated by lab personnel so that no one is unintentionally harmed.
12.2.1 Steps to take before decontamination
- Find out the history of the equipment
- What was it used for?
- What might the equipment contaminated with?
- What PPE is appropriate during decontamination and spill clean-up?
- What will be the disposition plan for the containers inside the equipment (if applicable)?
- Clean up all spills in or on the equipment prior to decontaminating (spill clean-up materials may need to be disposed of as hazardous waste or biohazardous waste, or radiological waste as appropriate. Contact the appropriate safety office for assistance with this.
- Determine if the design, materials, or construction of the equipment will have an effect on the decontamination process. Crevices, joints and pores constitute barriers to the penetration of liquid disinfectants and prolonged contact time may be required to accomplish decontamination, depending on the intricacy of the design and the amount of soil present.
- Select the appropriate disinfectant or decontamination solution depending on the contaminant.
12.2.2 Biological Contamination
When incubators, refrigerators, freezers or other equipment are disinfected, they should also be wiped out and dried out completely. Also, the doors should be left open, if possible, to prevent mold growth.
For specific guidance on how to disinfect an item with biological contamination, please contact the Biosafety Office at 865-974-5547 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
12.2.3 Gas Decontamination of Biosafety Cabinets
Decontamination of a BSC is performed to render it non-infectious and is achieved by exposing the work surfaces, exhaust filters, surfaces of the air plenums, and the fan unit to formaldehyde, hydrogen peroxide gas, or other gaseous decontamination methods. This procedure shall only be done by qualified technicians due to the potential for exposure to biohazardous agents and the chemicals used. The use of an alternative method requires approval of EHS’s Biosafety Officer prior to implementation.
BSCs, shall be decontaminated before:
- Repair (when maintenance work, filter changes, and performance tests require access to any potentially contaminated portion of the cabinet); or
- Being taken out of service.
Decontamination is recommended as a prudent practice (1) after a gross spill of infectious material or (2) if the BSC is going to be put on inactive status.