A peek inside the BU biolab

Before researchers enter a level 4 lab, they will have to put on a $2,600 protective suit. When they exit the lab, they will first have to take a 7-minute decontamination shower.
NICOLAUS CZARNECKI/METRO

The Boston University biolab has been causing nerves to shake ever since plans to construct the South End facility were announced.

Now, as some research is set to begin at the $200 million lab, officials are attempting to soothe the nerves by offering a glimpse inside the facility.

“The folks that have been through it … have seen the safety measures in place and they are second to none,” said Mayor Thomas Menino after taking a tour of the facility with the media and some members of the public yesterday. “We have to educate folks in the neighborhoods that this is good for the city.”

State officials gave permission for the center to begin low-level biosafety research in the facility starting this year. Diseases that fall in to that category include strains of tuberculosis, the Dengue virus and measles.

However, research on the deadliest diseases has not yet been approved.

During yesterday’s tour, lab heads touted ventilation systems, $2,600 protective space suits, retina scanners and other safety and security measures to address concerns that have been voiced by the public.

John Murphy, interim director of the center, said that the facility will not only create jobs and provide an economic impact for the city, but it will also help researchers better understand deadly diseases and viruses and in turn better protect public health.

The what ifs

Because of concerns, Susan Sullivan, the executive director of the Newmarket Business Association, participated in yesterday’s tour of the facility. She said there will always be a concern, but that the safety measures provide some relief.

“We all believe that, always in the back of our head, the what ifs. But after [the tour], the what ifs are so minimal,” she said.


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