Biosafety in Microbiological and Biomedical Laboratories (BMBL) 5th Edition

BMBL Foreword

Biosafety in Microbiological and Biomedical Laboratories (BMBL) quickly became the cornerstone of biosafety practice and policy in the United States upon first publication in 1984. Historically, the information in this publication has been advisory in nature even though legislation and regulation, in some circumstances, have overtaken it and made compliance with the guidance provided mandatory. We wish to emphasize that the 5th edition of the BMBL remains an advisory document recommending best practices for the safe conduct of work in biomedical and clinical laboratories from a biosafety perspective, and is not intended as a regulatory document though we recognize that it will be used that way by some.

This edition of the BMBL includes additional sections, expanded sections on the principles and practices of biosafety and risk assessment; and revised agent summary statements and appendices. We worked to harmonize the recommendations included in this edition with guidance issued and regulations promulgated by other federal agencies. Wherever possible, we clarified both the language and intent of the information provided. The events of September 11, 2001, and the anthrax attacks in October of that year re-shaped and changed, forever, the way we manage and conduct work in biological and clinical laboratories and drew into focus the need for inclusion of additional information in the BMBL. To better serve the needs of our community in this new era, this edition includes information on the following topics:

  • Occupational medicine and immunization
  • Decontamination and sterilization
  • Laboratory biosecurity and risk assessment
  • Biosafety level 3 (Ag) laboratories
  • Agent summary statements for some agricultural pathogens
  • Biological toxins

At last count, over two hundred of our scientific and professional colleagues have assisted in the preparation of the 5th edition through participation in technical working groups, serving as reviewers and guest editors, and as subject matter experts.

CDC partners with the U.S. National Institutes of Healthexternal icon to publish biosafety guidelines for protecting workers and preventing exposures in biological laboratories. In addition to the partnership with CDC and world renowned organizations, CDC produces online training and offers other downloadable resources that may be useful to laboratorians nationally, or around the world.

Page last reviewed: October 24, 2018