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​U.S. shuts high-security labs over concerns about air hose safety

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  • ​U.S. shuts high-security labs over concerns about air hose safety

    U.S. | Fri Feb 17, 2017 | 6:07pm EST

    U.S. shuts high-security labs over concerns about air hose safety

    By Julie Steenhuysen

    The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has closed down its highest security biosafety laboratories after discovering that hoses that supply air to scientists wearing special protective suits were never approved for that use, the agency said on Friday.

    "We have no evidence that anybody has suffered ill health effects from breathing air that came through these hoses," Stephan Monroe, associate director for laboratory science and safety at the CDC, told Reuters.

    Monroe said he was confident scientists were not exposed to pathogens because the air they breathed passed through HEPA filters. The suits they wear also use positive air pressure to prevent pathogens from entering the suit.
    CDC is now conducting safety tests to determine whether the scientists might have been exposed to harmful chemicals that passed through the air hoses.
    About 100 former and current scientists have worked in one of the three labs since CDC's BSL-4 complex was cleared for use in 2008. CDC notified people who have been using the air hoses earlier this week.

    CDC officials learned about the problem on Monday when they were ordering replacement hoses, and were told by the manufacturer that they were not certified for breathing air. Monroe declined to name the company.
    "Safety and security don't just happen, they are the result of collective consensus and public investment. We owe our children, the most vulnerable citizens in our society, a life free of violence and fear."
    -Nelson Mandela