Biological materials such as infectious agents, recombinant DNA molecules, and genetically modified organisms can cause serious health risks if they are not contained properly. Therefore, the federal government has established a series of rules, regulations, and best practices for proper containment of hazardous materials. Federal guidelines classify the health hazard of biological agents and their containment facilities based on the different levels of risk associated with their use in research. To ensure compliance, the federal government requires the appointment of an institutional biosafety committee and a biological safety officer to review all recombinant DNA research, including agricultural research using genetically modified organisms. Select agents are any biological organisms or toxins that potentially pose a severe threat to human, animal, or plant, health. Any institution that uses select agents must register with the federal government, and the researchers must undergo a federal security risk assessment. The federal government has also established licensing procedures for radioactive material that regulate exposure limits and permissible possession amounts. The broad license requires the appointment of a radiation safety committee and a radiation safety officer to monitor institutional regulatory compliance. Likewise, all hazardous waste must be handled according to rigid federal and state regulations.
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