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Biological agents

Biological agents are micro-organisms such as bacteria, parasites, moulds, viruses and their waste products. This category also includes genetically modified variants (GMOs). These agents may form a risk for your health, which is why we apply a number of legal and other guidelines to prevent people being exposed to these agents as far as possible.

What are the risks?

The Health and Safety Act distinguishes four classes of risk among agents. Three factors play a role in this context: harmful effects on health, the risk of the disease in question spreading among the population, and options for preventing or treating it.

  • Risk class 1
    These agents are unlikely to cause a disease.
  • Risk class 2
    These agents can cause a disease and are dangerous. It is, however, unlikely that these substances will spread among the population. In most cases, there is an effective way to prevent or treat the disease.
  • Risk class 3
    These agents can cause a serious disease and form a great danger. There is a risk that the disease will spread among the population. In most cases, however, there is an effective way to prevent or treat the disease.
  • Risk class 4
    These agents can cause a serious disease and form a great danger. There is a serious risk that the disease will spread among the population. In most cases there is no effective way to prevent or treat the disease.
     

    Exposure to biological agents

    Leiden University staff members may be exposed to biological agents when doing their work by inhaling, swallowing or directly in the blood, via a wound or mucous membranes. In some cases, this happens unconsciously, such as with legionella infection via a shower. Sometimes exposure is a calculated risk when employees work with biological agents, for example in research laboratories.
     

    Preventing exposure to agents

    In accordance with the Health and Safety Act, the University has taken measures to prevent or limit exposure as far as possible. If you consciously work with agents, make sure that you are aware of the risks and comply with the safety measures. Report calamities and incidents as soon as possible!

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