By Ling-Mei Wong
Tufts University started work this month on the Arnold 8 Biosafety Laboratory, a biosafety level 3 research facility at 136 Harrison Avenue, within its existing medical research building. Construction will be completed this summer, with operation depending on the lab’s approval.
“Once construction is complete, an outside ‘commissioning agent’ retained by Tufts comes in to inspect the laboratory building and its systems to be sure they are functioning as required to meet the standards set by the City of Boston, Commonwealth of Massachusetts and federal agencies,” said Kimberly Thurler, director of public relations for Tufts University. “The Boston Public Health Commission will review the report of the commissioning agent and also do its own inspection. The BPHC can take as much time as it needs to conduct inspections, ask questions and request information from Tufts. There is no set deadline.”
The Arnold 8 Biosafety Laboratory will research tuberculosis. The disease is 20 times more common in Asians than Caucasians in Boston and infects a third of the world’s population, according to the World Health Organization. Handling the tuberculosis organisms requires a BSL-3 lab with specialized air handling systems and other protective features, one grade above Tufts’ current BSL-2 lab.
“There has never been any doubt in my mind that Tufts will comply with the letter of the law and will make every efforts to insure that the lab will be safe for both its research staff and the neighboring community,” said Paul Chan, member of the project’s Community Advisory Committee and director of development, Massachusetts Housing Investment Corporation. He and other members of the CAC toured the lab space to understand the design and operating procedures.
Contractor Shawmut Design & Construction is working to provide opportunities for neighborhood residents, Thurler said. The job will employ about 10 to 20 workers each week.
For more information, visit www.medicine.tufts.edu/Research/Arnold8BiosafetyLab.
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