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The office of Biological Safety leads efforts in major decisions affecting the biological safety within the City of Boston. The office collaborates with elected officials, municipal employees, organizations and the private sector. The program also leads internal, multidisciplinary team(s) in biological safety activities, including a city working group devoted to the new National Emerging Infectious Diseases Laboratories (NEIDL). The primary role of the program includes enforcing two (2) existing regulations that have been promulgated for more than 25 years.

Regulations Governing Biological Research and Recombinant DNA Technology Use in the City of Boston

On January 16, 2019, the Boston Board of Health adopted amendments to Boston's Biological Laboratory Regulations to:

  1. Rescind the Recombinant DNA Use and Technology Regulation,
  2. Remove the prohibition on Recombinant DNA (rDNA) research on BSL-4 agents in Boston, under the condition that any rDNA project undergo rigorous approval process for BSL-4 projects
  3. Incorporate the regulation of the use of rDNA into the Biological Lab Regulation,
  4. Formalize a requirement that each individual BSL-4 research project undergo review by the Boston Biosafety Committee prior to receiving approval by BPHC, and
  5. Revise definitions and citations to align with updated national guidance documents.

Board meeting materials can be found here.

Current Biological Laboratory Regulations and Guidelines

1.    Biological Laboratory Regulations as Amended January 16, 2019

       Biosafety RDNA Permit Application Revised January 23 2019.pdf

2.    Biological Laboratory Regulation Guidelines (Subject to ongoing revision)

3.    Disease Surveillance and Reporting Regulation (as Amended on January 10, 2013)

4.    Disease Surveillance and Reporting Guidelines

The Biological Laboratory Regulations require anyone operating or planning to operate a Biosafety Level 3 or Level 4 laboratory or proposing to use rDNA at biosafety levels 2, 3, or 4 within the City of Boston to apply for a permit from the Boston Public Health Commission.

Contact the Boston Public Health Commission to register for access to an on-line application process for your BSL-3 or BSL-4 facility

If you are searching for information on Body Art/Tattoo Permits, please click here 

Questions? Contact the Environmental Health Office at 617-534-5965 or

Boston Public Health Commission
1010 Massachusetts Ave, 6th Floor, Boston, MA 02118.
Phone:(617) 534-5395 Email: