In a November 17th, 2020 Lab Advisory, the CDC announced the release of the 6th Edition of Biosafety in Microbiological and Biomedical Laboratories (BMBL)! The BMBL has become the foundation of biosafety practice since it was first published in 1984. Historically, the information in this publication has been advisory in nature although some legislation and regulations, in particular local recombinant DNA ordinances, have made compliance with the guidance provided mandatory. The previous version of the BMBL (5th Edition) was published in December 2009.

So what’s different about the 6th Edition? The updated BMBL is more detailed in many sections and has increased in length by ~160 pages! For example, the section describing Standard Microbiological Practices (Section IV) for BL1 and BL2 labs now includes a detailed description of content requirements for a written Biosafety Manual.

In addition, there is a new requirement that long hair be restrained so that it cannot contact hands, specimens, containers, or equipment. Proper glove selection and use are also addressed in detail.

Other sections with significant updates include:

  • Section I, Biological Risk Assessment was substantially revised and now emphasizes the critical importance of this process in selecting the appropriate practices and level of containment.
  • Section V, Vertebrate Animal Biosafety Level Criteria for Vivarium Research Facilities includes updates to more closely align with Section IV (Laboratory Biosafety Level Criteria).
  • Section VII, Occupational Health Support for Biomedical Research includes discussions on the risk of exposure and risk of disease methodology as well as agent-specific medical guidance.
  • Section VIII, Agent Summary Statements has new and updated agent summary statements including those for agents classified as Select Agents.

Additional appendices have also been added to the 6th Edition including Appendix K, Inactivation and Verification; Appendix L, Sustainability; Appendix M, Large Scale Biosafety; and Appendix N, Clinical Laboratories. In addition, the 6th Edition also includes updates to Appendix D, Agriculture Pathogen Biosafety.  This Appendix has been revised by the USDA to support the USDA Agricultural Biosafety Compendium (ABC).

Per the CDC, the changes in the 6th Edition are considered an update and not an overhaul. Although revisions have been made to many sections, the overall architecture remains the same as in previous editions. Read the 6th Edition here.

For additional information on updates included in the 6th Edition of the BMBL and how to implement them at your workplace, please email info@safetypartnersinc.com.

This blog was written by Beth Graham, our Associate Director of Quality, Research, and Training who has been with Safety Partners Inc. for the last 11 years.