EPA updating safety regulations, inside a BSL-4 facility

From last week, some stories that I thought would interest readers:

At C&EN, a story by Glenn Hess about the Environmental Protection Agency updating its Risk Management Plan regulations:

EPA has identified areas of particular interest, including the following:
– Adding toxic, flammable, explosive, or reactive substances to its list of compounds to be regulated.
– Removing substances from the program.
– Decreasing or increasing the so-called threshold quantities that qualify certain chemicals for regulation under the program.
– Adding requirements such as leak detection and repair programs.
– Requiring consideration and use, if feasible, of inherently safer technologies.

And at Al Jazeera America, a peek inside Boston University’s National Emerging Infectious Diseases Laboratories (NEIDL), which is to become a biosafety level 4 facility this year.

I also met with Dr. Elke Muhlberger – a leading expert of filoviruses – of which Ebola is one of only two that have been identified. Filoviruses like Ebola and Marburg are distinguished by the deadly hemorrhagic fever they cause. A veteran of BSL-4 level research, Dr. Muhlberger has spent countless hours in a positive pressure suit, something I also had the opportunity to try on. I found this heavily reinforced rubber spacesuit, which has its own air supply and is necessary for conducting BSL-4 research, cumbersome and claustrophobic. I couldn’t imagine wearing that get-up for up to fours hours (no bathroom breaks?!) as researchers like Dr. Muhlberger do, let alone nimbly handling samples of deadly pathogens through the awkward rubber gloves.

For what is surely a more in-depth tour of NEIDL, This Week in Virology has an hour-long video from 2013 (I haven’t watched the whole thing):

Author: Jyllian Kemsley

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