If you have heard the term biohazard before you may associate this with your favorite zombie movie where infected patients are treated by doctors in full body PPE suits. While biohazards seem to only be a danger on the big screen, you’d be surprised how often you may come into contact with something that is considered a biohazard. Biohazards can be found anywhere so knowing how to recognize and handle biohazards is crucial for the health and safety of yourself and those around you.
A biological hazard or biohazard is defined as any biological materials (microorganisms, plants, animals, or their byproducts) that pose a threat to the health of living organisms. What is considered a biohazard? Biohazards can be broken down into three categories: liquid biohazards, dry biohazards and sharp biohazards.
Liquid biohazards can include things like blood or bodily fluids from humans or animals. These bodily fluids could be saliva, vomit or amniotic fluid. Some people ask, is dried blood a biohazard? The answer is yes, and sometimes it can be more of a hazard because it has had time to sit and attract bacteria.
Dry biohazards include harmful bacteria, viruses, fungi or items contaminated by hazardous materials like dried paper towels, tongue depressors, wipes or Petri dishes.
Sharps biohazards include needles, syringes, urinals, blood vials and other medical supplies that might become contaminated after use.
4 Levels of BioHazards
According to the CDC there are 4 levels of biohazards. Level 1 is the lowest risk while level 4 poses the highest risk of spreading and causing infection.
Level 1 biohazards are considered the lowest risk to humans and the environment. Examples of a level 1 biohazard could be E.Coli or Bacillus subtilis. PPE for a level 1 biohazard includes the use of gloves, lab coats and eye protection as needed.
Level 2 biohazards pose a moderate threat to humans and the environment. These microbes can cause severe illness and are transmitted through direct contact. Level 2 biohazards include HIV, Hepatitis B and salmonella. Additional safety equipment may include face shields or a biological safety cabinet.
Level 3 includes biohazards that are airborne and can cause serious diseases when inhaled. The most common examples of this would be tuberculosis. Respirators are needed when working with Level 3 biohazards.
Level 4 biohazards are the highest risk to humans and the environment because they include contaminants that cause infectious diseases that have no treatments or vaccines. Examples of Level 4 biohazards include Ebola and Marburg viruses. PPE requirements for a Level 4 biohazard include a full-bodied, air supplied, positive pressure suit.
Call Before You Clean
You can come into contact with biohazards at the grocery store, a children’s playground or at your doctor’s office. Knowing how to identify and protect yourself from these hazards will keep you and those around you safe from infection.
If you have a question on whether or not something is considered a biohazard, reach out to the biohazard clean up crew at Aftertime Bio. Since 2010, Aftertime Bio has provided dependable and professional cleaning and building disinfection services after traumatic events or infectious outbreaks. Aftertime Bio is the premier service provider for trauma cleaning and biohazard remediation on the gulf coast. Find a full list of our services on our website.