Biohazards are a common problem in any kind of scientific research, and if a spill of dangerous materials occurs, it can be deadly. Luckily, a recent spill of tuberculosis spores at the Johns Hopkins Cancer Research Building did not result in any injuries and was quickly contained. The TB was being transported along an interior bridge that connects two parts of the facility when the spill occurred. Immediately the buildings were evacuated and the heating and cooling system was shut down. Many times, germs or live viruses can spread when spilled if they enter the ventilation system, but officials acted quickly to prevent that.
It’s been determined that a latch on the container failed during transport. The material was frozen and the container had an interior core of dry ice keeping it cold. This created pressure and the material was pushed upward against the latch, which then failed. Researchers at Johns Hopkins will be re-trained and proper handling and how to spot possible problems with containers. Nothing like it has happened at the facility before and while no one was injured, the process of transporting and handling dangerous materials will be reviewed for possible improvements.