Biohazard containment

Darren Hickerson dhickerson at
Wed Oct 6 09:58:44 EST 2004

Dr. Bigos,

I am a former field service engineer for BD (now working in research with
StemCo Biomedical).  I have worked with the aerosol mgt system on the
Vantage and Aria since it was in prototype.  Please find inserted below a
few responses to your inquiry.

>One user reported a serious containment setup - placing the Aria in a Baker
hood, requiring operator use of a Depuy full-body suit, and checking for
contamination with GlowGerm beads.

This is about a $50,000 solution -- less than some have reported for an
entire clean room, but more than for a soft wall solution like a clean tent.
The Baker system is excellent where sterile sorting is required, but may be
overkill if operator protection is all you are after.  In any case, if you
are protecting the operator against pathogens, a protective suit is hard to
avoid in any condition with any instrumentation, regardless of its built-in

>Several users reported doing HIV sorts using the BD "Whisper" containment
system, but did no independent verification of their particular system. (A
number of them should know better!) At least one person verified the BD
system on a Vantage/DiVa, but did not test it on their Aria.

Most that I know have used the GlowGerm beads.	I have not heard any reports
that anyone was unsatisfied with the containment results, so one person's
verification may be sufficient for another's, if it can be cited.  Early on,
BD was providing these for field testing, but that time may have passed as
they went from prototype to full release over a year ago.

>I do not have personal experience with biocontainment on the Aria. I was
not impressed several years ago when I saw the biocontainment design on the
DiVa in that there was no secondary barrier between the operator and the
sort chamber - only the primary barrier provided by the instrument. This
necessitated a 30 second wait before accessing until the sort chamber could
be evacuated.

The containment system should run continuously during sorting, so there
should be no special wait period at any point, except maybe after turning
off the stream, though 30 seconds seems excessive.  A secondary barrier is
always a good idea.  BD probably left it off for customer convenience --
experience shows that most people would find it to be in the way and
wouldn't use it anyway.  For the rest, developing a plexiglass shield or
soft-walled containment suited to your needs and room design is ideal.

>It appears that a very similar system is in use on the Aria (correct me if
you have better info) and in general would have the same problems.

The actual aspiration system is.  On the Aria, however, there is something
of a secondary barrier with the sort chamber door and the large front cover
door, but these are moved when accessing the stream.  Additionally, the
collection tube holder seals the sort area, so vapor is actually contained
in a gasket sealed chamber, unlike the leaky sink covers on the Vantage.
The only caveat is that the cooled collection tube holder on the Aria
mysteriously has big, open slots in the front, eliminating the advantage of
the gasket sealed collection area.  Still, the collection holder hangs in
the primary air evacuation pathway, so vapors are aspirated, just exposed to
more surfaces that need decontamination afterwards.

>We use the Cytek containment system on our DiVa, and a home-brew one
constructed by Eric Wieder on our Vantage. Both have simialr features in
that they provide a second barrier between the sorter and the operator, and
move a large volume of air (quietly) so the sort chamber can be accessed
quickly.  I checked both with phage and e-coli lawns, and they were solid in
blocking all contamination.

BD's system is very quiet as well.  Sounds like you're set.  Good luck.

Darren Hickerson, B.A., M.S.
Senior Scientist, Cell Sorting
StemCo Biomedical, Inc.
2810 Meridian Parkway
Durham, NC 27713
(919) 484-2571, ext. 240 (desk) or 226 (lab)
Cell: (919) 599-2980
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