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Frequently asked questions opening BSL3 laboratory

Erasmus MC opens a Bio Safety Level 3 laboratory (BSL3) for infectious diseases research. This is a special laboratory that meets all international biorisk management requirements for safety and security. Erasmus MC is dedicated to public health and supports the significant role of The Netherlands in the prevention and control of serious infectious diseases. Research on the causative infectious agents and the development of better preventive strategies, diagnostics, vaccines and treatments depends on the availability of such a biosafe laboratory.


What is a BSL3 laboratory?

The biosafety level 3 (acronym: BSL3) refers to the specification of the combined containment measures to safely conduct research work with biological agents such viruses and bacteria. A BSL3 accommodates research with agents classified as biorisk level 3 (out of four levels).

Why is a BSL3 necessary?

Infectious diseases are a serious threat to public health. The occurrence and spread increase driven by international trade and tourism and also climate change. Scientific research into the nature and properties of hazardous infectious agents (viruses and bacteria) is indispensible to develop better strategies for the prevention and control including better diagnostics, vaccines and therapies.

What type of research is done?

Agents in biorisk class 3  can cause serious disease and can potentially spread in the population, but people can be effectively protected by vaccines or medicines. Examples of class 3 agents are novel influenza variants, tuberculosis and typhus.

Would that include research on Ebola or pox?

No, this does not include Ebola and pox viruses. These are class 4 agents that require a BSL4 for research. There are a limited number of BSL4 facilities in Europe and none in The Netherlands.

What is de design of this laboratory?

The lab covers about 800 m2 and has 8 research rooms. Above and below are technical areas accommodating the high quality installations. The air pressure is maintained at inward increasingly lower levels warranting an inward airflow. There are installations for decontamination and all waste is inactivated locally. 

Who can access the lab?

The lab can be accessed by scientists who work there, after completion of training of procedures. All persons authorized are individually assigned personal access codes.

What are the working procedures?

Persons enter the lab through airlocks and use special clothing. The experimental materials are inside hermetically sealed boxes (isolators). All laboratory waste is first disinfected before disposal.