This question was posed by an ALN reader. We asked Sebastien Dalmagne at ABC Actini to offer information on effluent decontamination.

Budget considerations have become a burning issue both in the public and the private sector. The pharmaceutical industry is no exception to this rule. An increasing number of projects are now aimed at being a retrofit in an existing facility rather than a whole new building construction. With containment laboratories, this raises some questions that need to be answered.

Here we will briefly review what defines a biosafety level (BSL) and study in more detail the comparative requirements of facilities. We’ll take a closer look at effluent decontamination systems (EDS) aimed at decontaminating the water coming out of a laboratory or vaccine production facility and possibly still infected with live germs and thus creating a possible threat for public health.

A biosafety level is the level of the biocontainment precautions required to isolate dangerous biological agents in an enclosed facility. BSL goes from 1 to 4, with 1 being laboratories that handle flu for diagnostics or research, for example, and 4 being laboratories that research highly pathogenic subjects. All agencies use the same system to categorize areas where biological germs are manipulated, based on the following:

  • The organism’s potential danger (could cause disease in healthy humans)
  • The amount of protection existing or not existing (cure or vaccine)
  • The quantity and type of use When retrofitting a BSL3 or BSL4 facility, the question of effluent decontamination is raised.

Thermal Treatment
Thermal decontamination is achieved with a combination time/temperature treatment. This combination is called the lethality rate and can be calculated as follows:

F0 = Time* 10 ^ ((treatment temperature – 121) / 10)

F0 is an exponential function, so by increasing the treatment temperature by a few degrees, the treatment time is significantly reduced. This may be where a continuous system retrofit can be a wise and cost effective investment.

Maximizing Resources
When retrofitting such systems, customers are looking to optimize the following resources:

  • Room
  • Capital investment
  • Steam
  • Water
  • Detergent (CIP)
  • Electricity

Finding the right equipment for a university or a facility is critical and can save big money. Users should evaluate their consumption needs to determine whether they should go with a batch or continuous system.

Last but not least, thermal sustainable EDS systems can be an easy way to win LEED Credits.

When retrofitting a biocontainment facility many parameters have to be considered. As for effluent decontamination systems, here are the essential elements to remember:

  1. Thermal decontamination is reliable and safe.
  2. Choosing the right equipment can save big money.
  3. New EDS are sustainable and affordable.

Our thanks to Sebastien Dalmagne for taking the time to respond to this question. ABC Actini LLC,11 Lincoln Drive Lewis Run, PA 16738, 814-598-7255,