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The term "containment" is used in describing safe methods for managing infectious materials in the laboratory environment. The purpose of containment is to reduce or eliminate exposure of laboratory workers, other persons, and the outside environment to potentially hazardous agents. There are two types of containment: primary and secondary.

Primary containment

Primary containment is the protection of personnel and the immediate laboratory environment from exposure to infectious agents; it is provided by both good microbiological technique and the use of appropriate safety equipment. The use of vaccines may provide an increased level of personal protection.

Secondary containment

Secondary containment is the protection of the environment external to the laboratory from exposure to infectious materials provided by a combination of good facility design and suitable operational practices. Therefore, the three elements of containment include laboratory practice and technique, safety equipment, and facility design. The risk assessment of the work to be done with a specific agent will determine the appropriate combination of these elements.

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