Published: July 20, 2007
Last month, a power surge, believed to be caused by a lightning strike, tripped a circuit breaker in one of CDC's buildings that contains laboratories causing a 60-minute power outage. This power outage did not pose a threat to workers in the building or to the community. The safety of our employees and surrounding community is of the utmost importance to us.
CDC's state of the art laboratories are built with multiple levels of containment. These redundant safety systems assure that dangerous work can be managed both day in and day out and also during a wide range of unexpected occurrences. This is true even when events like power outages occur. In fact, CDC has operated laboratories in Atlanta for over 60 years and throughout this entire time, there has never been an environmental release from a CDC lab that would have endangered the community. This track record reflects both exceptional technical design of our laboratories and well-trained laboratory and safety people dedicated to careful control of the risks related to our work.
Unique air handling systems in our labs protect our own researchers, their co-workers down the hall, and our neighbors working and living nearby. Because of these systems, air that leaves our lab buildings is actually cleaner than the air that enters them. We also follow strict safety standards related to all solid and liquid waste generated from our labs. In addition, multiple layers of physical security are in place, from gates, armed guards, entry locks and controls, and specialized entry screening processes. The majority of our physical security controls do not rely on electrical power to function.
CDC's most specialized labs have daily safety evaluations and all laboratorians go through extensive laboratory safety training. When an incident occurs that results in a possible exposure, we have very detailed protocols in place to ensure immediate evaluation.
CDC and National Institutes of Health literally "wrote the book" Biosafety in Microbiological and Biomedical Laboratories and these guidelines are the basis for all biosafety activities in the United States. CDC's workers, their families, and the surrounding community and communities just like ours across the nation were top of mind when this book was written. They remain top of mind as these guidelines are practiced by our professionals every day.