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Biological Safety

The Biological Safety Program enforces regulations to ensure safe operation of biological research laboratories in the City of Boston.

The following biological research laboratories operating, or proposing to operate, in Boston must get an annual operating permit from the Boston Public Health Commission (BPHC):

  • Labs operating at biosafety level 3 and above: BSL-3/ABSL-3, BSL-4/ABSL-4
  • Labs working with recombinant DNA (rDNA) materials at biosafety level 2 (BSL-2/ABSL-2) and above.

The Biological Safety Program administers this permitting. It also leads the Boston Biosafety Committee oversight advisory group and coordinates internal and external multidisciplinary teams. This program ensures safe operations in Boston’s biological research laboratories. Use the resources on this page to better understand the permitting process.

Forms, Checklists, and Guidelines

Forms, Checklists, and Guidelines

All biosafety permit applications are submitted and managed online through our secure system. Please contact the Biosafety Program at 617-534-5965 or biosafety@bphc.org for information on the system and to set up an account. Note that other local and state regulations also govern laboratories; please see below for details of these other requirements.

If a reportable laboratory incident occurs, call the BPHC Infectious Disease Bureau IMMEDIATELY at 617-534-5611. Then call the BPHC Environmental Health Office at 617-534-5965 or email biosafety@bphc.org. Reportable laboratory incident reports should be submitted through the online secure permit system. However, the incident report form can be downloaded here. Fill out the form and fax it to BPHC (617) 534-5905, if you cannot access the online permit system.

Incident Reporting Form

These checklists are based on the CDC/NIH Biosafety in Microbiological and Biomedical Laboratories (BMBL, 6th Edition), NIH Guidelines for Research Involving Recombinant or Synthetic Nucleic Acid Molecules, and the BPHC's regulations.
​BSL-2 inspection checklist
 
BSL-3 inspection checklist
 
BSL-4 inspection checklist
 
ABSL-4 inspection checklist

Training, Presentations, and Resources

Training, Presentations, and Resources
Biological Safety Cabinet: How it works to protect you
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