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Human Derived Materials

Work with Human Blood or Other Potentially Infectious Material (Including Human Cell Lines)

Work with human blood, unfixed tissues, certain fluids, and cell lines* is regulated by the OSHA Bloodborne Pathogen Standard (29 CFR 1910.1030). Research personnel and other employees who may have the potential for exposure (occupational) to these materials must receive Bloodborne Pathogen and Biosafety Training for Research Personnel (log-in) BEFORE they initiate research activities with any of these materials.

OSHA requires that all employees receive retraining annually. Your annual retrainning requirement can be fulfilled by completing the online module Bloodborne Pathogens Annual Update Training for Research Personnel (log-in).

*NOTE: Includes non-human primate cell lines (e.g. African Green Monkey kidney cells-- Vero, etc…)

Hepatitis B Vaccination

The Hepatitis B Virus (HBV) vaccination series must be offered to occupationally exposed employees within 10 days of their initial assignment. The HBV vaccine program is administered through UVA WorkMed free of charge for occupationally exposed employees or students receiving payment through a stipend. Employees who decline the Hepatitis B vaccine must sign a statement of declination.


Introduction: Human cell lines are commonly used in biomedical research, yet appropriate biosafety requirements for handling human cell lines are often subject to debate within the scientific community. In order to clarify the University's position on this matter, the Institutional Biosafety Committee has created the following policy.

Background: In 1991, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) issued the Bloodborne Pathogens (BBP) Standard to protect employees who have occupational exposure to human blood or other potentially infectious materials. While human blood, most body fluids, unfixed human tissues and organs were clearly included within the scope and application of the standard, the inclusion of human cell lines was ambiguous.

In 1994, OSHA issued an interpretation of the applicability of the BBP Standard towards human cell lines. According to the interpretation, human cell lines are considered to be potentially infectious and within the scope of the BBP Standard unless the specific cell line has been characterized to be free of hepatitis viruses, HIV, Epstein-Barr virus, papilloma viruses and other recognized bloodborne pathogens.1 In alignment with this interpretation, the American Type Culture Collection (ATCC) recommends that all human cell lines be accorded the same level of biosafety consideration as a line known to carry HIV.2 Moreover, the Sixth Edition of the CDC publication, Biosafety in Microbiological and Biomedical Laboratories (BMBL), recommends that human and other primate cells should be handled using Biosafety Level 2 (BSL-2) practices and containment.3

In consideration of the aforementioned regulatory interpretation and consensus guidelines and other factors, the UVA Institutional Biosafety Committee has adopted the following policy in regards to the use of human cell lines.

Policy: All cell and organ cultures of human origin, including well established cell lines, shall be handled in accordance with the OSHA Bloodborne Pathogens Standard and under Biosafety Level 2 (BSL-2) containment.

Adopted by unanimous vote of the Institutional Biosafety Committee (IBC), December 2003. (Marie-Louise Hammarskjold, IBC Chair)

Most recent IBC review of this policy was December 2021.


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