Laboratory Security

Learn more about these specific topics:

Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Chemical Safety Program

Nitric Acid Safety & Security Plan

Laboratory security is everyone's responsibility. The basic requirements are:

  1. Control Access - Restrict labs to authorized personnel only
  2. Maintain Inventory - Know where and how much hazardous materials are in the lab
  3. Reporting - Unaccounted loss and annual inventory
  4. Training- all lab staff need to know the security procedures and why they are important.

Security has become an important component of laboratory operations. A good laboratory security system can lessen a number of risks, such as:

  • theft or diversion of critical or high-value equipment;
  • theft or diversion of dual-use chemicals or materials that may be used for illegal activities;
  • accidental or intentional release of or exposure to hazardous materials;
  • sabotage of chemicals or high-value equipment;
  • release of sensitive information;
  • rogue work or unauthorized laboratory experimentation; and
  • threats from activist groups.

The type and extent of the security system depend on several factors, including:

  • the types of perceived threats and quantities of materials and equipment;
  • the knowledge of groups or individuals posing a threat;
  • the history of theft, sabotage, and violence directed at or near the laboratory;
  • regulatory requirements or guidance;
  • the presence of an attractive nuisance; or
  • concerns regarding dual use or information security.

All laboratories at Stony Brook University must follow the Security Level 1 guide. Labs with highly hazardous materials must meet the Security Level 2 guide.

Normal or Security Level 1
A laboratory or area characterized as Security Level 1 poses low risk for extraordinary chemical, biological, or radioactive hazards. Loss to theft, malicious pranks, or sabotage would have minimal impact to operations.
Security Features for Security Level 1
  • Lock doors when not occupied
  • Make sure all laboratory personnel receive security awareness training
  • Control access to keys and use judgment in providing keys to visitors
Elevated or Security Level 2
A laboratory or area characterized as Security Level 2 poses moderate risk for potential chemical, biological, or radioactive hazards. The laboratory may contain equipment or material that is attractive for theft, could threaten the public, or might be misused. Loss to theft, malicious pranks, or sabotage would have moderately serious impact on the research programs and the reputation of the institution.
Security Features for Security Level 2
Physical
  • Lockable doors, windows, and other passageways
  • Door locks with high-security cores
  • Hardened doors, frames, and locks
  • Perimeter walls extending from the floor to the ceiling to prevent access from one area to the other over a drop ceiling
Operational
  • Secure doors, windows, and passageways when not occupied
  • Make sure all laboratory personnel receive security awareness training
  • Visitors and contractors cannot enter laboratory unless laboratory personnel are present
Electronic
  • Access control system recommended
  • Intrusion alarm recommended where sabotage, theft, or diversion is a concern

Reducing the Dual-Use Hazard of Laboratory Materials

A wide range of hazardous materials present an extra safety threat because of the risk of terrorism and illicit drug production. It is important to be aware of the potential for intentional misuse of such dual-use or multiple-use laboratory materials.

Laboratory security should focus on a range of dual-use materials, including biological agents such as live pathogens and biological toxins, synthetic reagents, and chemical toxins. Security should also consider the possibility that the laboratory itself could be used for the illicit synthesis of substances.

Take these steps to reduce the risk of theft or the use of dual-use chemicals for terrorist activity.

  • Periodically and carefully review laboratory access controls to areas where dual-use agents are used or stored.
  • Limit the number of laboratory personnel who have access to dual-use agents.
  • Provide training to all laboratory personnel who have access to these substances, including a discussion of the risks of dual use.
  • Remain alert and aware of the possibility of removal of any chemicals for illicit purposes and know how to report such activity to a responsible person.
  • Maintain inventory records of these materials.
  • If electronic access controls are in place, maintain a log of who has gained access to areas where dual-use materials are used or stored.

Dual Use Research for IBC Applications

The National Science Advisory Board for bio-security defines "dual use research" as research that, based on current understanding, can be reasonably anticipated to provide knowledge, products, or technologies that could be directly misapplied by others to pose a threat to public health, agriculture, plants, animals, the environment, or materiel.

According to the National Research Council of the National Academy of Sciences, dual use research is illustrated by classes of experiments that:

  • Demonstrate how to render a vaccine ineffective
  • Confer resistance to therapeutically useful antibiotics or antiviral agents
  • Enhance the virulence of a pathogen or render a nonpathogen virulent
  • Increase transmissibility of a pathogen
  • Alter the host range of a pathogen
  • Enable the evasion of diagnostic or detection modalities
  • Enable the weaponization of a biological agent or toxin

In your opinion, does the activity described in this application meet the definition of dual use research?

The Institutional Biosafety Committee application for Recombinant DNA work is here: http://www.stonybrook.edu/research/orc/ibc.shtml,

OVPR Export Controls

Generally stated, export controls regulate the disclosure, shipment, use, transfer or transmission of any item, commodity, material, technical information or software, and encrypted software appearing on the U.S. government's controlled technologies lists for the benefit of a foreign person or foreign entity anywhere. Additionally, export controls regulate transactions or the provision of services involving prohibited countries, persons or entities based on trade sanctions, embargoes and travel restrictions.

Academic Chemical Security Information from the FBI (in Adobe PDF format)