Decontamination and waste management.

Kojima, Kazunobu; Allan, Bennett; Beswick, Alan; Heisz, Marianne; Hoffman, Peter; Karlen, Stéphane; Makison Booth, Catherine; Meechan, Paul; Sheeley, Heather; Summermatter, Kathrin (2020). Decontamination and waste management. Laboratory Biosafety Manual Fourth Edition and Associated Monographs. Geneva, Switzerland: World Health Organisation

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Disinfection, sterilization and waste management are key to safe handling of biological agents. It is therefore important to understand the basic mechanisms of the different methods of disinfection, sterilization and waste management that can be used in a laboratory. The specific decontamination requirements depend on the nature of the biological agents being handled. This monograph describes the methods for the management and final disposal of laboratory waste that is considered a biological hazard. The information can be used to develop standardized and more specific procedures on decontamination and waste management for a particular laboratory. The targeted readership for this monograph is personnel who perform the risk assessment, for example, laboratory managers or biosafety officers, as well as laboratory personnel and scientists who decontaminate laboratory items and workers who handle laboratory waste.The information in this monograph on decontamination and waste management is designed to accompany and support the fourth edition of the WHO Laboratory biosafety manual (core document) and other associated monographs. The manual and the monographs adopt a risk- and evidence-based approach to biosafety, rather than a prescriptive approach, in order to ensure that laboratory facilities, safety equipment and work practices are locally relevant, proportionate to needs and sustainable. Emphasis is placed on the importance of a “safety culture” that incorporates risk assessment, good microbiological practice and procedure and standard operating procedures, relevant introductory, refresher and mentoring training of personnel, and prompt reporting of incidents and accidents followed by appropriate investigation and corrective actions. This new approach aims to facilitate laboratory design and ways of operating that ensure greater sustainability while maintaining adequate and appropriate control of biosafety.The other associated monographs provide detailed information and help implement systems and strategies on the following specialized topics: risk assessment, laboratory design and maintenance, biological safety cabinets and other primary containment devices, personal protective equipment, biosafety programme management and outbreak preparedness and resilience.
The monograph includes a description of the methods of decontamination used in a microbiology laboratory including handwashing, and chemical, gaseous and heat disinfection. The different classes of chemical disinfectants and their constituents, their mechanisms of action and their advantages and disadvantages are discussed. Factors that can influence the effectiveness of disinfectants are also listed. The monograph includes an overview of fumigation methods, heat inactivation and how verification of the effectiveness of these treatments is carried out by means of indicators. The monograph also covers aspects of waste management as well as documentation and record-keeping which are an integral part of waste management. Considerations for removal of both liquid and solid waste products from the laboratory and their safe disposal are described. Methods for inactivation of specimens are also discussed.

Item Type:

Book (Monograph)


04 Faculty of Medicine > Service Sector > Institute for Infectious Diseases
05 Veterinary Medicine > Department of Infectious Diseases and Pathobiology (DIP) > Institute of Virology and Immunology
05 Veterinary Medicine > Department of Infectious Diseases and Pathobiology (DIP)

UniBE Contributor:

Karlen, Stephane, Summermatter, Kathrin


500 Science > 570 Life sciences; biology
600 Technology > 610 Medicine & health
600 Technology > 630 Agriculture




Laboratory Biosafety Manual Fourth Edition and Associated Monographs


World Health Organisation




Katharina Summermatter

Date Deposited:

18 Jan 2021 09:38

Last Modified:

05 Dec 2022 15:43




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