Oakland University Biosafety
Graham Health Center
408 Meadow Brook Road
Rochester, MI 48309

Routes of Exposure and Minimization

 When conducting a risk assessment for your IBC Application, it is necessary to evaluate the potential routes of exposure, and provide details on how you will control these exposures. The below table can be referenced as a checklist for common routes of exposure found in a microbiological lab and can be used to develop associated controls for minimizing these exposures.

Route of Exposure

Organs Involved

Common Lab Exposures Sources



(Skin or Mucus Membrane)



Mucus Membranes - Eyes, Mouth and Nose
  • Spills and Splashes
  • Contaminated work surfaces or equipment
  • Use gloves, goggles, face shields and protective clothing
  • Decontaminate work surfaces regularly
  • Double contain potential sources of spills or splashes
  • Wash hands after biohazardous work and especially after removing gloves



Respiratory Tract (Nasal passages, trachea, larynx and lungs)

  • Spills and splashes
  • Aerosol producing equipment: blenders, sonicators tissue grinders
  • Aerosol from Dispensors: pipettors, syringes, pouring liquids
  • Centrifugation without sealed cup rotors
  • Many others….


  • Use a Biosafety cabinet whenever infectious aerosols may be generated
  • Use sealed cup rotors when centrifuging biohazardous material
  • Respirators may be used as a last resort



Digestive Tract (mouth, esophagus, stomach, intestine)

  • Eating, mouth pipetting, or accidental transfer of contaminated hands or objects to mouth
  • Use proper work practices, including the prohibition of mouth pipetting, eating, contact lenses manipulations or the use of cosmetics in the lab.


(Self inoculation by needles or cuts by sharp objects in the lab.)


Body Surfaces

  • Syringes and needles are the greatest source of inoculation injuries
  • Scalpels and broken glass and razor blades
  • Animal bites or scratches
  • Dispose entire syringe and needle directly into approved sharps safes without recapping or any other manipulations.
  • Devise methods that avoid the use of sharps or wear puncture resistant protective equipment.