A Low Cost, Sustainable Alternative to the Class II BSC for AFB Smear Microscopy
Presented by Joe Masella at the Asia-Pacific Biosafety Association Annual Conference, Bali, Indonesia, 26th & 27th April, 2012

The presentation covered a range of issues relating to conducting sputum smear examinations in areas that do not have access to conventional biological safety cabinets. Discussion topics included:

  • Direct AFB Smear Microscopy
  • Good microbiological techniques: reduction of aerosol formation
  • Good ventilation, directional air-flow
  • Some countries forbid (by law) to perform AFB smear on an open working bench
  • Challenges with Open Bench Ventilation
  • Air flow Direction Temperature Environment
  • Solutions

    In addition to good laboratory practices

  • Design laboratories to address ventilation and climate issues
  • Buy BSC for smear microscopy: Expensive, requires periodic certifications, HEPA filter maintenance, otherwise “false sense of security”
  • Alternate cabinet which is suitable for smear preparation
  • Outcome

    1. Design a simple workstation cabinet to perform smear microscopy, minimal maintenance, no HEPA filter, and develop a guidance document with performance specifications to fabricate “Fan Box” under local conditions.
    2. Specification document could be a mix of European Standards, ASHRAE guidelines. WHO, ABSA, and CLSI should be involved in the writing of this guidance document.
    3. General consensus to invite manufacturer of bio-safety cabinets and fume hoods in subsequent discussions.
    4. A final consensus meeting of experts to discuss the nomenclature of “the box”, global standards, general safety practices, prototypes, and validation.
    An expert consultation meeting was held at the CDC, September 15-16, 2009, attended by subject matter experts from CDC, WHO, FIND, APHL, Health Canada, CUH2A, NHLS South Africa, GERMFREE, and NSF. Recommendations were formulated for the Ventilated Workstation (VWS).

  • VWS design is validated to provide safe work environment.
  • VWS provides designated, uniform, and safe work environment for the manipulation of sputum specimens.
  • VWS when constructed according to the design requires minimum validation and maintenance.
  • VWS is least expensive.
  • Current Status
  • Demonstrated the prototype at the Union conference (Donated to projects in Lusaka and Livingston, Zambia).
  • Three VWS sent to Mozambique for pilot testing.
  • The design document has received clearance from CDC, APHL, The Union, and GLI
  • For further information about Germfree’s Ventilated Workstation (VWS) please visit this page.

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