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Biosafety Levels

Laboratory workers who handle infectious materials in the microbiology laboratory should be aware of the work practices, safety equipment, and barriers that will protect them, and others in the area, from infectious agents.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the National Institutes of Health (NIH) created guidelines to assist laboratories in developing safe practices based on the infectious agents that are handled. These guidelines are referred to as Biosafety Levels 1 through 4. Each increasing number represents increased risk, requiring more stringent work practice and increasingly protective safety equipment and barriers. A copy of the Guidelines can be obtained from the CDC or accessed online on the CDC website: