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CDC reviewing air quality associated with air hoses in some laboratories

Media Statement

For Immediate Release: Friday, February 17, 2017
Contact: Media Relations,
(404) 639-3286

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has begun a review of air quality associated with the use of air hoses attached to protective suits worn in its Biosafety Level-4 labs. There is no known exposure to hazardous pathogens or contaminated air within the labs, and the air used in these hoses has already been filtered for pathogens using HEPA filters. The review is focusing on whether staff who have used the hoses could have been exposed to unknown chemical compounds from the hoses themselves.

On February 13, 2017, CDC learned from the company that now owns the manufacturer that their current stock of air hoses was not certified to be used for breathing air. CDC will be testing the air that comes through our laboratory hoses to determine whether it contains any chemical compounds that could pose a health risk. Because the health and safety of our employees is our highest priority, CDC has suspended laboratory work that involves the use of these air hoses during the review period. Laboratory scientists working in the BSL-4 labs have been briefed and will provide input to the review.

CDC will provide updates on the results of the air quality tests to current and former employees who have worked in the BSL-4 laboratories, where these air hoses have been used since 2005. CDC has notified the Federal Select Agent Program officials who oversee CDC’s select agent labs, and we are in the process of sharing this information with the safety offices of other laboratories that may use similar hoses.

There is no known risk to the public. CDC will provide updates as more information becomes available.

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U.S. DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES

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