The Meaning Behind the Biohazard Symbol

Whether or not you know exactly what a biohazard is, chances are you are familiar with the symbol and have seen it at least once or twice in the last. This symbol is typically found on substances and materials which contain biohazardous waste and the point of them is to warn that whatever is inside can potentially be dangerous or harmful. While it’s easy to know that this symbol reflects something you should steer clear from, knowing the meaning behind the symbol can be a great way to raise awareness and gain important knowledge on what is and is not safe to be around.

The history of the symbol

According to the New York Times, the biohazard symbol was developed by Charles L. Baldwin of Dow Chemicals and Robert S. Runkle of the National Institute of Health (NIH) in 1966. The idea was to create a symbol to be used and recognized internationally that would indicate an actual (or even potential) presence of a biohazard. They defined biohazard as infectious agents presenting a risk or potential risk to the well-being of man, either directly through infection or indirectly through disruption of the environment.

At the time when the symbol was created in the 60’s there were several different warning symbols in use. To avoid confusion with a variety of symbols, icons, and colors, Baldwin and Runkle worked with the Dow Marketing and Packaging design department to craft this single symbol with the goal of being memorable and clear. Through a process of sharing the different symbols created with a focus group a few times over the period of a few weeks, the finalist became clear when it was determined to be the most remembered of the bunch. In addition to being easily recognizable and relatively simple, the symbol is also symmetric, so it is identical regardless of the angle at which it is seen.

Becoming a recognizable symbol

The symbol was originally intended to be a fluorescent orange or orange-red color so that it would contrast on any background, although sometimes today you see it reflected in black on a bright yellow background. You may sometimes see some accompanying words with the symbol to give more context into the contents of what is inside the packaging or behind the sign, but the symbol itself is not to be manipulated so it remains recognizable, and the integrity of the warning remains intact. The goal is that anyone who sees this symbol knows to steer clear of the package or, if absolutely necessary, handle it with extreme care. 

Biohazard cleanup help in Louisiana

Since biohazards can be extremely dangerous, especially when not handled with care or by experts, it’s vital that any scene that has potential hazards is cleaned by professionally trained companies like Xtreme Cleaners. Our teams are highly trained in the latest safety protocols and ensure proper disinfection and protection is used to avoid the potential spread of harmful pathogens. If you or someone you know needs professional biohazard cleanup help in Louisiana, give us a call any time at 800-524-9591.