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11/16/12 - MSU biosafety authority shares expertise on campus

Mississippi State is the state institution of higher learning with bio-recovery technicians certified to perform trauma scene cleanup.

While no one at the university, including those in the Office of Regulatory Compliance and Safety, looks forward to a required cleanup of biohazardous waste, being prepared for and appropriately responding to a traumatic event is critical, according to Patricia Cox, ORCS biosafety officer.

At her recent campus presentation, "The Dark Side of Biosafety," Cox explained her department's expertise in removing blood-borne pathogens and other types of potentially infectious biohazardous waste.

When traumatic events occur, bio-recovery is necessary for the containment of bio-hazardous material, which refers to anything that can cause human disease, she said.

"The whole point of bio-recovery is to return the environment back to a safe and healthy environment," Cox said. "This particular university has the capability of responsiveness and will also respond to other IHL universities if they have a need for this."

Cox also emphasized just how difficult the process actually is. If trauma occurs requiring extensive bio-hazardous cleanup, responders must make certain several important questions are answered before hiring a professional bio-recovery company.

"You want to be sure they meet all important Environmental Protection Agency and Occupational Safety and Health Administration standards," she continued. "Also, are they certified through the American Bio-Recovery Association, which is the professional organization that encompasses this particular niche of the cleaning industry?"

Additionally, the responding service should hold at least $1 million of commercial liability insurance. Cox advised asking how employees are trained and what kinds of disinfectants they use. Don't hesitate to call the Better Business Bureau, she said.

Cox offered her expertise to anyone with questions about how to vet a trauma cleanup company; she is available at 662-325-0620.

Leah Barbour | University Relations

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