Per the standard microbiological practices described in the CDC/NIH Biosafety in Microbiological and Biomedical Laboratories (BMBL, 6th edition), "Plasticware is substituted for glassware whenever possible" at all containment levels. The concern is that glass can break and become a sharp. If the glass is contaminated with any hazardous materials, this not only poses an injury risk, but also an exposure risk.
Glass pipettes may not be used in BSL2, BSL2+ and BSL3 laboratories, unless the use of these pipettes is scientifically justified. In the event a PI needs to use glass pipettes at BSL2 or higher containment, the PI must submit a deviation request* to the IBC. The use of glass pipettes at ≥BSL2 containment, along with the scientific justification for their use, must be documented as a deviation request in the Operations and Procedures section of the Principal Investigator’s Biological Use Authorization (BUA). The IBC will review each deviation request to determine if the scientific justification provided is adequate, if suitable substitutions are unavailable, and whether an exception to the policy can be granted.
To facilitate selection of appropriate substitutes, including, but not limited to plastic aspirator pipettes or plastic Pasteur pipettes, researchers may consult with EH&S Biosafety (email@example.com).
*An example of a commonly approved deviation request is the use of glass pipettes for electrophysiology experiments.
Approved 4/20/17; Revised 6/15/23