The potential laboratory hazards associated with human cells and tissues include the bloodborne pathogens Hepatitis B virus (HBV), Hepatitis C virus (HCV), and Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV), as well as agents that may be present in human tissues (e.g. Mycobacterium tuberculosis, Streptococcus, Toxoplasma, etc.) Non-human primate cells and tissues also present risks to laboratory workers (Herpes B virus), as do cells transformed with viral agents such as SV-40, EBV, or HBV, cells carrying viral genomic material and tumorigenic human cells. All are potential hazards due to the possibility of exposure.

Cultured cells which are known to contain or be contaminated with a biohazardous agent (i.e. bacteria or virus) are classified in the same BSL as the agent. Cell lines which do not contain known human or animal pathogens are designated BSL – 1. The following list contains human or primate cells that are to be handled using BSL – 2 practices and containment:

  • Cells from blood, lymphoid cells, and neural tissue
  • All primary cell lines
  • Secondary (immortalized) cell lines
  • Cell lines exposed to or transformed by a human or primate oncogenic virus
  • Pathogen deliberately introduced or known endogenous contaminant
  • Fresh or frozen tissue explants

Note that this list is not conclusive and individual cases will be determined as they occur.