The term biological material, as used in this manual, is a general term referring to all prokaryotic and Eukaryotic organisms (and their components), viruses, sub-viral agents and biologically derived toxins used in instructional laboratories. For the purposes of bio-safety, it is useful to categorize biological material as bio-hazardous or non-bio-hazardous, and to accurately assess the risks involved in working with each type biological material present in the laboratory.
Bio-hazardous material includes all infectious agents, vectors known to carry and transmit infectious agents, infected or potentially infected animals, infectious material and biologically-derived toxins that present either a risk or a potential risk to the health of humans, animals, or plants either directly through infection or indirectly through damage to the environment.
- Infectious Agents include human, animal, and plant pathogens (bacteria, parasites, fungi, viruses, prions).
- Infectious Material includes infectious agents and all biological material that contains or has the potential to contain infectious agents. Examples of infectious material include human blood and blood components, human tissues and body fluids, cultured cells (from humans and non-human primates), infected animals and animal tissues, non-human primates and any tissues from non-human primates (can transmit Herpes B virus), sheep and any tissues derived from sheep (can transmit Coxiella burnetti, causative agent of Q-fever), and environmental samples likely to contain infectious agents.
- Biologically-derived Toxins include all molecules produced by animals, plants, microorganisms or other agents that have a median lethal dose
(LD50) value of <50 mg/kg (oral administration in rats). Examples are bacterial exotoxin, plant lectins (ricin), and mycotoxins
Throughout this manual, references are made to the relative hazards of infective microorganisms by risk group (WHO Risk Groups 1, 2, 3 and 4). This risk group classification is to be used for laboratory work only.