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Tissue Culture Rooms: Hand Washing Sink Requirement

Read about the requirement for a hand washing sink in tissue culture rooms.


UC San Diego’s Institutional Biosafety Committee (IBC) requires tissue culture rooms to have a hand washing sink located near the exit door, not in an adjacent room.


Contemporary research buildings frequently feature large open bay laboratories with tissue culture facilities located in smaller rooms. A tissue culture room is a room where a biosafety cabinet is used to manipulate infectious agents or cell cultures from various animals or plants. Isolating tissue culture operations from the open lab reduces the risk of contamination of mammalian cell cultures and random exposure to biohazards.

It’s important for labs containing higher risk biological materials to be equipped with appropriate engineering controls, including a hand washing sink.

The strategy below was approved by the IBC to ensure future laboratories are equipped with hand washing sinks, while not penalizing researchers who already have Environment, Health & Safety approval for tissue culture rooms without sinks.

When a sink will be required

Sinks will be required in a tissue culture room when any of the following occur:

  • New construction or a facility is remodeled
  • An approved Biohazard Use Authorization is amended to add:
    • Infectious agents, viral vectors, or materials that raise the biosafety level of the Biohazardous Use Authorization (e.g., BSL-1 to BSL-2 or BSL-2 to BSL-2+)
    • A new tissue culture room
  • A new Biohazard Use Authorization is submitted to the IBC for approval

When a sink is not required – anterooms

A sink is not required in a tissue culture room if a sink is located in an anteroom. An anteroom is a room directly adjacent to a tissue culture room whose sole purpose is to provide support for the tissue culture room. An anteroom is not a large multipurpose laboratory.

Contact EH&S Biosafety.