The Laboratory for Infectious Disease Research (LIDR) is designed to contain risk group 2 and 3 CDC select agents and meets all applicable local, state, and federal guidelines for containment of these agents. Laboratory biosafety guidelines for containment of microbial pathogens are described on a 4-point scale from BSL-1 to BSL-4 from least to most risk, respectively. Much of the biological research done worldwide on microbial pathogens is done in BSL-1 or BSL-2 laboratories. BSL-3 laboratories like the LIDR are specifically designed to be used with microbial agents that can cause severe and oftentimes treatable diseases and require additional precautions over BSL-2, in large part because these agents are oftentimes transmissible through aerosols. Because of this, BSL-3 facilities are some of the most cautiously designed and constructed buildings in the world.
The LIDR is a self-contained facility with its own air supplies, filters, power supplies, decontamination and waste disposal systems. All critical systems are built with redundancy so that back-up units are ready for use in the event that primary units fail. In addition, all work inside BSL3 laboratories at the LIDR is performed in specially designed biosafety cabinets providing a safe and easily cleanable work environment that protects the user from any potential aerosol produced during their experiment. Air from the entire building is then passed through a High Efficiency Particulate Air (HEPA) filter before being exhausted to the environment. Air that leaves the building ends up cleaner and safer than the air that enters the building.
In addition to the need to maintain strict safety standards at the LIDR, the ever-changing global political environment requires that we maintain strict security standards ensuring that the agents are not misused. For this reason, access to LIDR laboratories is strictly controlled and everyone working in them must complete a rigorous federal background check before being allowed inside. Workers in the LIDR are under constant surveillance and must follow strict security procedures.
One of the most important aspects of the LIDR’s safety and security programs involves a strict training regimen. Individuals wishing to work at BSL-3 must complete an extensive training and evaluation program building their knowledge of appropriate regulations, LIDR policies and procedures, safe handling of biohazards and participate in an Occupational Health and Safety program designed specifically for the research in this building. In addition, these skills must be reinforced and retested annually to ensure continuing compliance with facility policies.