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Viruses 2012, 4(8), 1202-1211; doi:10.3390/v4081202
Article

Evaluation of the Operator Protection Factors Offered by Positive Pressure Air Suits against Airborne Microbiological Challenge

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Received: 27 June 2012 / Revised: 18 July 2012 / Accepted: 30 July 2012 / Published: 7 August 2012
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Advances in Filovirus Research 2012)
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Abstract

Laboratories throughout the world that perform work with Risk Group 4 Pathogens generally adopt one of two approaches within BSL-4 environments: either the use of positive pressure air-fed suits or using Class III microbiological safety cabinets and isolators for animal work. Within the UK at present, all laboratories working with Risk Group 4 agents adopt the use of Class III microbiological safety cabinet lines and isolators. Operator protection factors for the use of microbiological safety cabinets and isolators are available however; there is limited published data on the operator protection factors afforded by the use of positive pressure suits. This study evaluated the operator protection factors provided by positive pressure air suits against a realistic airborne microbiological challenge. The suits were tested, both intact and with their integrity compromised, on an animated mannequin within a stainless steel exposure chamber. The suits gave operator protection in all tests with an intact suit and with a cut in the leg. When compromised by a cut in the glove, a very small ingress of the challenge was seen as far as the wrist. This is likely to be due to the low airflow in the gloves of the suit. In all cases no microbiological penetration of the respiratory tract was observed. These data provide evidence on which to base safety protocols for use of positive pressure suits within high containment laboratories.
Keywords: Risk Group 4; positive pressure suits; aerosol microbiological challenge; OPF Risk Group 4; positive pressure suits; aerosol microbiological challenge; OPF
This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

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Steward, J.A.; Lever, M.S. Evaluation of the Operator Protection Factors Offered by Positive Pressure Air Suits against Airborne Microbiological Challenge. Viruses 2012, 4, 1202-1211.

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