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Biosecurity/histology labs in Alberta reopen after upgrade


Edmonton, AB – August 16, 2004 – The Alberta government’s post mortem level II biosecurity laboratory in Edmonton recently went through extensive refitting and upgrading. Work on the lab started in January and was recently completed.

“The upgrades to the lab and the relocation of the histology lab will result in greater efficiencies between the two facilities,” says Dr Sandy Honour, head of the Agri-Food Systems Branch, Alberta Agriculture, Food and Rural Development, Edmonton.

Approximately 40 tons of concrete was jackhammered out to accommodate the new lab design. The lab now has new, specialized equipment and was fitted with seamless, stainless steel fixtures. Storage capacity, testing capacity and surge capacity have been enhanced in both the biosecurity lab and the histology lab.

Under Health Canada laboratory biosafety guidelines, level II labs must be equipped with things such as autoclaves, sanitizable surfaces, restricted access and special biosafety cabinets. Emergency planning and waste containment within the facility are necessary, and there must be specialized training for workers.

Level II labs do not participate in human contagious, airborne or dangerous disease research. The only laboratory in Canada that can work with highly infectious disease agents such as SARS virus is the Health Canada/Canadian Food Inspection Agency level IV lab in Manitoba.

“The upgraded level II facility is much more efficiently cleaned and decontaminated than before and will allow the lab to process animal samples for up to an hour more in a day because of the time saved with proper equipment and design,” says Dr Honour.

Up to six staff members can work in the post mortem lab at any one time and two staff will work in the histology lab facility in normal operations. The cost for construction and renovations for the two labs was $1.25 million.