What does NSF's biosafety cabinet program do? It's not just product certification

Did you know that the biosafety cabinet program at NSF International doesn't just certify products? It's true that NSF uses NSF/ANSI Standard 49 to evaluate class II laminar flow biosafety cabinets, but we also have two different accreditation programs for the skilled technicians and service providers who "field test" or "field certify" biosafety cabinets each year. These field certifiers go into hospitals, research facilities, universities and other microbiological and biomedical laboratories to make sure that biosafety cabinets are operating correctly, year after year. This is important not only because the potential of releasing harmful pathogens into the environment is high if a biosafety cabinet is faulty, but also because it's normal for airflows within the biosafety cabinet to change over time as the HEPA filters slowly clog by doing their job of removing particulate matter from the airflow. Biosafety cabinets often last more than 20 years before they are replaced with newer models, and even then, some units are donated overseas to under-resourced countries after they are decommissioned in the U.S.

While NSF currently has more than 500 field certifiers - primarily in North America - who are accredited through the traditional "Enhanced Accreditation" program, we are working hard to train and accredit additional service providers throughout the world through a new "Basic Accreditation" program. This program, while still in its early stages, is critical because it is estimated that 40% of biosafety cabinets are sold into countries with NO infrastructure available for field certifications (there are no trained professionals or calibration laboratories within the immediate region). The "Basic Accreditation" program acknowledges other international standards for biosafety cabinets and focuses on the most common type of biosafety cabinets (type A2).

In recent years, NSF has worked with such esteemed authorities as the International Federation of Biosafety Associations, Asia-Pacific Biosafety Association, World Health Organization, Global Affairs Canada, Association of Public Health Laboratories, Public Health England's Novel and Dangerous Pathogens training facility, etc. to offer training and testing workshops throughout southeast Asia, India, Ethiopia, and England (the England site was utilized for the benefit of individuals from Kazakhstan, Mongolia, Nigeria, and Zambia).

With more trained professionals on the ground across the globe, we expect increased recognition of NSF/ANSI 49 as the standard for biosafety cabinets and NSF as the authority for biosafety cabinet certification. 

We are already seeing the benefits of our efforts, having been asked in recent years to comment on WHO's latest revision of its Laboratory Biosafety Manual and present at international biosafety conferences in such far-flung locales as Uzbekistan, Vietnam and Bangladesh. 

This, in addition to new manufacturer applications for type testing from India, China and South Korea.


Check out the embedded video (above), created by the International Federation of Biosafety Associations, that illustrates the importance of the work NSF is doing