Canadian Conservation Institute
Recommendations for Handling Potential Biohazards
From time to time, CCI staff receive from the Transportation Safety
Board of Canada documents and logbooks from air crashes/shipwrecks/train
crashes for freezing, freeze-drying, Parylene coating, and separation.
Since all or some of this material may have come into contact with
human remains and/or body fluids it may present a potential biohazard
to the employee(s) handling it; therefore the following procedures
are recommended (It should be pointed out that in discussion with
the Department of Health & Welfare, the RCMP Central Forensic
Laboratory and the Government of Ontario, Centre for Forensic Science,
no actual hazard has been identified or symptoms diagnosed). It
should also be noted that some aircraft instrumentation contain
radioactive material and may present a potential radiation hazard.
All CCI employees handling this material should familiarise themselves
with these recommendations.
1. Incoming material:
1.1. All material should be checked and monitored for biohazards
and/or radiation hazards prior to delivery to CCI. The latter must
be checked with radiation monitoring equipment and, if necessary,
decontaminated prior to delivery to CCI.
1.2. Material that has become wet should be prefrozen, where possible,
prior to its entering CCI. It should not be sitting in a container
1.3. All crash material brought into CCI for treatment/analysis
must be bagged in transparent/translucent, leakproof, impermeable
bags and clearly labeled by the Transportation Safety Board of Canada
as a biohazard using the appropriate WHMIS hazard label. Where possible,
items should be individually bagged, or bagged in small quantities,
with the contents clearly labeled preferably using waterproof ink.
CCI reserves the right to refuse to handle any material not conforming
to this requirement. Material presenting a radiation hazard will
not be accepted.
1.4. All crash material brought into CCI for treatment/analysis
must enter by the loading bay entrance and be taken immediately
to an available freezer unit. The Registrar/Assistant Registrar
should be immediately informed of the location of this material.
2.1. In the interests of security and the need to protect evidence,
which may be used in a judicial enquiry, it may be necessary to
store this material in one of the two vaults.
2.2. No material should be stored in laboratories, holding areas
or vaults unless properly bagged and labeled as a biohazard. Alternative
locations, such as fume hoods, refrigerators or freezer units, should
3.1. No handling should be carried out without the employee(s)
wearing appropriate protective clothing, such as latex surgical
gloves and masks, lab coats and aprons. These should all be disposable.
Full face protection should be provided if there is any danger of
3.2. All handling should be restricted to as few employees as necessary.
No handling should be carried out by photographers or freeze-drier
operators unless requested by the conservator.
3.3. Precautions should be taken to prevent injuries caused by
needles, scalpels, and other sharp instruments or devices during
handling procedures. If a glove is torn or a needlestick or other
injury occurs, the glove should be removed and a new glove used
as promptly as safety permits. If a skin puncture should occur,
inform your supervisor immediately and see the nurse or doctor as
soon as possible.
3.4. Any employee having open cuts, sores, exudative lesions, weeping
dermatitis, mould allergies or respiratory conditions should be
excused handling this material.
3.5. All pregnant employees should be excused handling this material.
4. After Handling:
4.1. All instruments and surfaces contaminated during procedures
should be decontaminated with an appropriate chemical germicide
or disinfectant, such as 10 sodium hypochlorite (Javex). Note: Do
not use bleach solutions in any areas pertaining to archeological
material without first consulting with archeology lab staff. Chlorides
contained in bleaching solutions will corrode metal artifacts.
4.2. After handling, all protective clothing should be disposed
of and all handlers must wash their hands thoroughly with an appropriate
chemical germicide or soap and water.
[Not applicable here; relates specifically to CCI]
6. Health Surveillance
6.1. Employees should participate in an occupational health surveillance
Health & Welfare Canada, Medical Services Branch
Photo Analyst, Centre for Forensic Science, Government of Ontario
N. Campagna Director, Occupational & Environmental Health Services,
Health & Welfare Canada, Ontario Region
Nurse Consultant, Bureau of Communicable Disease Epidemiology, Health
& Welfare Canada
Senior Advisor, Environmental Health Surveillance and Sanitation,
Health & Welfare Canada
Toxicologist, RCMP Central Forensic Laboratory, Toxicology Section
Document Examiner, RCMP Central Forensic Laboratory, Document Section
Mary Ellen Kennedy
Health & Welfare Canada, Laboratory Centre for Disease Control,
Chief, Division of Biosafety
Industrial Hygienist, Health & Welfare Canada, Occupational
Medicine & Hazards Investigation, Technical Support Group
Ashton, John, "Some radiation Hazards in Aircraft in Museums",
in: Symposium 91. Saving the Twentieth Century. The Degradation
and Conservation of Modem Materials. Abstracts. Ottawa: Communications
Canada, 1991, p.38.
Health & Welfare Canada, & Medical Research Council of
Canada, Laboratory Biosafety Guidelines, Ottawa: Supply & Services
Canada, 1990, ISBN 0-662-17695-2.
Health & Welfare Canada, "Update: Universal Precautions
for Prevention of Transmission of Human Immunodeficiency Virus,
Hepatitis B Virus, and Other Bloodborne Pathogens in Health-Care
Settings", in: Canada Diseases Weekly Report, Health &
Welfare Canada, July 9, 1988, vol. 14-27, pp. 117-122, ISSN 0382-232X.
Health & Welfare Canada, "Universal Precautions",
in: Canada Diseases Weekly Report, Health & Welfare Canada,
February 4, 1989, vol. 15-5, pp. 23-28, ISSN 0382-232X.
Health & Welfare Canada, "Recommendations for Prevention
of HIV Transmission in Health-Care Settings", in: Canada Diseases
Weekly Report Supplement, Health & Welfare Canada, November
1987, vol. 13S3, pp. 1-10.
Telephone discussions with those listed in Acknowledgements.