What to do:
Bio Waste Spills

September 29, 2023

We recently were present when an incident occurred in a Tissue Culture Laboratory: Someone dropped a full vacuum trap flask which resulted in a bio-waste spill.

Luckily our team was quickly able to contain the spill, but it made us aware that EVERYONE working in a biology lab should know EXACTLY what to do in the event of a bio-waste spill in their lab.

First, put spill pads over the entire spill. It is important that you use the correct pad, which is determined by the type of spill be it either oil or liquid. Using the wrong type of pad can actually SPREAD the bio-hazard spill and make it worse. (Your emergency cleanup kit should contain both types of pads, and they should be clearly labeled.)

Next, pour undiluted bleach over the tops of the spill pads to soak in and disinfect the bio-waste underneath. (Much like you would use bleach to disinfect the vacuum trap flasks themselves.)

Once the bleach is poured over the spill pads, it is mandatory that you MUST EVACUATE that area of the lab for 20-30 minutes to allow for any aerosols created by the spill to settle.

Your spill kits should contain clean-up signs to post outside of the lab to warn people not to enter the spill area until it is decontaminated.

After the 20-30 minutes are over you can reenter the lab. Properly dispose of the used spill pads, which by now should have absorbed all of the spilled material, by placing them in a bio-waste container. Then make sure to thoroughly clean the area.

Helpful Tip: To reduce risk in handling and dumping of bio-waste make it a habit to add 100ml of undiluted bleach to each vacuum flask at the beginning of every collection.