Biological Spill Response


This page is an excerpt from procedure Biohazard Safety and Waste Disposal in the BMS Labs [SAFE 3.0].

Click here to return to Spill Response and Exposures page.


Small volumes of biohazardous materials (approximately 5mL or less) can be cleaned with disinfectant wipes and paper towel, and this can typically be disposed of in the regular trash.  Materials that are grossly contaminated with blood and/or body fluids should be placed in a red biohazard bag.

Large volumes of biohazardous materials (approximately 5mL or more) may require special cleanup procedures.  Large spills can spread easily on counter tops, contaminating multiple items, and are more likely to contaminate lab coats and clothing.  These spills should be cleaned up as follows:

A. Alert people in the immediate area of the spill. Take appropriate action to ensure others are safe from the spill as well.

a. Post a temporary “hazard” sign near the spill, or DO NOT ENTER sign on the door, if necessary.

B. Prior to leaving the area, remove any contaminated clothing that is capable of spreading the biohazardous material.

a. Disposable items should be placed into a biohazard bag.  It is recommended that any clothing be disposed of as well, but must at a minimum be disinfected with a bleach solution or disinfectant wipes before leaving the laboratory.

C. Before attempting to clean area, formulate a plan of action, or ask for help. All materials needed for cleanup are available in the BMS labs and BMS store room.  Proper Personal Protective Equipment (Gloves, safety goggles, and lab coat) must be worn during cleanup.

D. A solution of 1 part household bleach and 9 parts water should be made in order to disinfect the area, and the amount made will depend on the size of the spill. A total volume of disinfectant at least five times the estimated spilled volume should allow adequate cleanup.

E. Starting at the edges and working towards the center of the spill, cover with paper towel.

F. Carefully saturate the paper towel with the bleach disinfectant, starting at the edges and working towards the center. Disinfectant should be poured as close to the spill as possible to limit splashing.

G. Allow saturated paper towel to sit for a sufficient time to disinfect the spilled material.

a. Non-viscous material should sit for 15-20min

b. Viscous material should sit for at least 30min

H. After disinfection, spill may be wiped up using the saturated paper towel, working from the edges to the center of the spill. This material should be placed in a red biohazard bag.

I. Area should then be cleaned with fresh paper towel that has been saturated with disinfectant.

a. Area should remain wet for at least 15 minutes in order to complete disinfection.

J. All materials from second disinfection should also be placed in the red biohazard bag, which must then be closed and autoclaved for disposal.