Minimum Safety Guidelines
Recommended for Working with Human and Animal Cell Cultures


It is recommended that all cell cultures distributed by Coriell Cell Repositories be handled according to appropriate Biosafety Level guidelines established by U.S. Department of Health and Human Service, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the National Institutes of Health. The HHS publication Biosafety in Microbiological and Biomedical Laboratories (BMBL) 5th Edition, contains details of practices and schedules of pathogens according to Biosafety Level.

Coriell Cell Repositories recommends that (unless otherwise indicated) all CCR human and animal cell lines be handled at BioSafety Level 2.


Administrative Responsibilities
Responsibility of Management: Management should establish a biohazards committee to institute and enforce a health and safety policy which includes a specific safety program for work involving human cell lines. The program should meet applicable federal, state, and local regulations and include safety training, maintenance of accident records, and provisions for emergency treatment.

Responsibility of the Principal Investigator: The principal investigator is responsible for the preparation of safety protocols for the research program under his or her direction. The protocols should include appropriate procedures for use, storage, decontamination, disposal, and emergency treatment. The protocols should be approved by the biohazard committee and discussed with the research staff before starting the research program.

Medical Surveillance and Screening:
Physical Examinations: Appropriate pre-employment and periodic medical examinations are desirable for persons working with human cell lines.

Work Restrictions: Persons having reduced immunologic competency should be restricted from working with these human cell lines.

Serum Collection and Banking: Serum should be collected at the time of employment to establish a baseline reference. Serum should be collected immediately after accidental injection or ingestion and at an appropriate interval thereafter. For additional information, see CDC publication Biosafety in Microbiological and Biomedical Laboratories (BMBL) 5th Edition.

Laboratory Access
Access to the cell culture area should be restricted to persons working directly with the cell lines, or by specific authorization by the principal investigator or director of the laboratory.


Pipetting: Mechanical pipetting aids rather than mouth pipetting should be used for all pipetting procedures.

Eating, Drinking, and Smoking: Eating, drinking, and smoking should not be allowed in the same areas where cell lines are under study.

Protective Clothing: It is recognized that the criteria for protective clothing may vary according to the physical situation of the laboratory and the agents handled. Ideally, adequate protective clothing such as a fully fastened laboratory coat should be worn. This clothing should not be worn outside the work area once the work area has been entered.


Recommended for all cell lines, but required for long-term lymphoid lines and their derivatives.

Ventilated Safety Cabinets or Hoods: Ventilated safety cabinets and hoods and other safety apparatus should be employed and should be tested at least annually to certify correct containment and operation. A list of specifications for satisfactory hoods and instructional materials may be obtained from the Office of Biohazards, NCI.

Housekeeping: Appropriate housekeeping procedures which suppress the formation of aerosols should be used. Work surfaces should be wiped down with an appropriate disinfectant before and after work with each cell culture and at the end of the workday.

Decontamination and Disposal: Contaminated glassware and similar materials should be appropriately decontaminated or stored for decontamination before removal from the work area for recycling or disposal. Liquid wastes should be decontaminated either chemically or by heat before being discharged to the community sanitary sewer system.

Protection of Vacuum Lines: Vacuum services, if used, should be protected with disposable absolute air filters and liquid traps. The effluent should be collected in liquid traps containing concentrated disinfectant.