Biological hazard

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The international symbol for biological hazard.

Biological hazards, also known as biohazards, refer to biological substances that pose a threat to the health of living organisms, primarily that of humans. This can include medical waste or samples of a microorganism, virus or toxin (from a biological source) that can affect human health. It can also include substances harmful to animals.

The term and its associated symbol are generally used as a warning, so that those potentially exposed to the substances will know to take precautions. The biohazard symbol was developed in 1966 by Charles Baldwin, an environmental-health engineer working for the Dow Chemical Company on the containment products.[1][2]

It is used in the labeling of biological materials that carry a significant health risk, including viral samples and used hypodermic needles.

In Unicode, the biohazard symbol is U+2623 ().

Classification[edit]

Bio hazardous agents are classified for transportation by UN number:[3]

Levels of biohazard[edit]

Immediate disposal of used needles into a sharps container is standard procedure.

The United States' Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) categorizes various diseases in levels of biohazard, Level 1 being minimum risk and Level 4 being extreme risk. Laboratories and other facilities are categorized as BSL (Biosafety Level) 1-4 or as P1 through P4 for short (Pathogen or Protection Level).

Symbol[edit]

The biohazard symbol was developed by the Dow Chemical Company in 1966 for their containment products.[2] According to Charles Baldwin,[2] an environmental-health engineer who contributed to its development: "We wanted something that was memorable but meaningless, so we could educate people as to what it means." In an article in Science in 1967, the symbol was presented as the new standard for all biological hazards ("biohazards"). The article explained that over 40 symbols were drawn up by Dow artists, and all of the symbols investigated had to meet a number of criteria:

The design was first specified in 39 FR 23680 but was dropped in the succeeding amendment. However, various US states adopted the specification for their state code.[5]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ "Symbol Making". New York Times Magazine. November 18, 2001. 
  2. ^ a b c "Biohazard Symbol History". 
  3. ^ USDA Policies and Procedures on Biohazardous Waste Decontamination, Management, and Quality Controls at Laboratories and Technical Facilities
  4. ^ Baldwin, CL; Runkle, RS (Oct 13, 1967). "Biohazards symbol: development of a biological hazards warning signal". Science 158 (798): 264–5. Bibcode:1967Sci...158..264B. doi:10.1126/science.158.3798.264. PMID 6053882. Retrieved 29 August 2011. 
  5. ^ WAC 296-800-11045, see PDF for a high resolution graphic

Bibliography[edit]

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