Ero Architects

Biosafety Testing Laboratory

Hidalgo County
  • Client

    Hidalgo County


Hidalgo County has given ERO the Notice-to-Proceed with a schematic design for its joint facility for biosafety testing laboratory. Hidalgo County is leading the way in providing direct access to laboratory facilities for LRGV residents who require pandemic testing. The 10,000 gsf facility will have Biosafety Levels 1-3 for testing for Ebola, Zika, Corona, Hepatitis and the like. The facility will be the only one of its kind in the LRGV.

 Today the closest facilities for bio-hazard testing is Corpus Christi or San Antonio. The County does not have its own facilities and is moving forward with the construction of a new facility. The $3.2 million facility will start construction on June 1, 2021, and be habitable by April 2022. Each of the labs will have its own vestibule, anteroom, and pressurized lab space.


As the lowest of the four, biosafety level 1 applies to laboratory settings in which personnel work with low-risk microbes that pose little to no threat of infection in healthy adults. An example of a microbe that is typically worked with at a BSL-1 is a nonpathogenic strain of E. coli. BSL-1 labs also require immediate decontamination after spills. Infection materials are also decontaminated prior to disposal.


This biosafety level covers laboratories that work with agents associated with human diseases (i.e. pathogenic or infections organisms) that pose a moderate health hazard. Examples of agents typically worked within a BSL-2 include equine encephalitis viruses and HIV, as well as Staphylococcus aureus (staph infections).

BSL-2 laboratories maintain the same standard microbial practices as BSL-1 labs, but also includes enhanced measures due to the potential risk of the aforementioned microbes. Personnel working in BSL-2 labs are expected to take even greater care to prevent injuries such as cuts and other breaches of the skin, as well as ingestion and mucous membrane exposures.

Access to a BSL-2 lab is far more restrictive than a BSL-1 lab. Outside personnel, or those with an increased risk of contamination, are often restricted from entering when work is being conducted.


BSL-3 builds on the two prior biosafety levels, a BSL-3 laboratory typically includes work on microbes that are either indigenous or exotic and can cause serious or potentially lethal disease through inhalation. Examples of microbes worked within BSL-3 include: yellow fever, West Nile virus, and the bacteria that cause tuberculosis.

The microbes are so serious that the work is often strictly controlled and registered with the appropriate government agencies. Laboratory personnel are also under medical surveillance and could receive immunizations for microbes they work with.

Access to a BSL-3 laboratory is restricted and controlled at all times.

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