Manual Biohazard

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While it seems abstract at first glance, both biologists and laymen can quickly and easily grasp its warning.

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Only fifty years ago, the symbol was entirely unknown, but today we see the biohazard symbol in clinics, labs, and even on skateboards! This now-ubiquitous symbol was created with some thorough testing and decision-making by scientists and psychologists over 40 years ago. According to articles in the New York Times and in the Science journal, the biohazard symbol was created by Charles L. Baldwin of Dow Chemicals and Robert S.

Runkle of the National Institutes of Health in Baldwin had been working with Dow Chemical on developing containment systems for the Cancer Institute at the National Institutes of Health, when he noticed there were several different warning symbols in use.

Baldwin began to work on ideas for the new symbol. Instead of consulting his own colleagues, he went to the Dow Marketing and Package Design department.

biohazard symbol

Together they tested common and recognizable symbols mixed with half a dozen of their original and new symbols across the country. They asked people to look at them and then guess what each one meant. The biohazard symbol got the fewest guesses. They then went back one week later to the same set of people and the same set of symbols, and asked them which of these they remembered most.

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They selected the biohazard symbol! After extensive research, Baldwin and his team produced what they believed to be the perfect warning symbol for biohazards. Its blazing orange background and perfectly symmetrical symbol stood out and avoided confusion. Its bold color and simple design made a tremendous impact on everyone.

Biohazard | Album Discography | AllMusic

After publicizing the symbol in the Science journal , it was immediately authorized by the US Center for Disease Control, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, and the National Institutes of Health as universal, and it has been in existence ever since. After a series of studies, tests, and designs, the biohazard symbol was created to meet the following fundamental criteria :.

The symbol is often portrayed on a yellow background, usually in a triangle, but that was never part of the original brief. While modern, the Biohazard symbol is inspired by one of the oldest symbols of humanity: the Triskele. The Triskele symbol represents a being with three legs more generally, three intertwined spirals or by extension, any other symbol with three protrusions and a threefold rotational symmetry.


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The origin of this symbol is so old that it is unknown; however, the symbol has spread ubiquitously throughout history. A universal feature of the various versions of the Triskele is its role as a vehicle of cosmic force. Accordingly, the Biohazard symbol was designed purely to symbolize a subtle and invisible force that acts through organisms or the parts of organisms, namely: bacteria, viruses with enormous generative power, and contaminant agents, conveyed by the atmosphere or biological fluids. The biohazard symbol is a very widespread tattoo , partly on account of its intriguing graphic form, partly because of what it represents: it is usually tattooed with an ironic significance in mind.

Instead of the symbol being used in a negative way, it is used to raise awareness for the disease. As you know, Robert Langdon is a professor of symbology and in the novel Inferno there are many more symbols … remember the Caduceus and the Rod of Asclepius?

This post was originally published on October 30, , and has been updated and enriched on July 13, We also offer a guided Inferno walking tour , which follows the footsteps of Robert and Sienna, as well as an an eBook with an audio version. Bright orange against a contrasting background made it easy to see. Still, despite its claim to be association-free, the biohazard symbol arguably benefited from its trefoil similarity to the ionizing radiation symbol developed a few decades prior.

Biohazard - Wrong Side Of The Tracks

It looks a bit like radiation emitting from a central atom, which is arguably somewhat easier to visualize than microorganisms. These days, however, its compelling distinctiveness which has helped popularize biohazard t-shirts, mugs and stickers may also be a drawback. But I ran into a peculiar situation one time a couple years ago when someone was putting on a seminar on biohazards.

As gifts for the participants, he devised a beautiful tie with little biohazard symbols all over it.

This got me upset, and I sent him kind of a nasty letter saying this symbol was not designed to be used sartorially. His reaction and position may sound a bit harsh, but they are grounded in legitimate concerns: the more popular the symbol becomes outside of its intended use cases, the less effective it will be at saving lives by alerting people to actual biological hazards, now and in the future. When I was training to be a teacher, I had to take language acquisition classes. One of the most memorable bits from that class was a story in one of the textbooks about the hollow mountain on Native American land whose name escapes me now that is one site of our seriously long term nuclear waste storage.

Since the half life of the radioactivity of the stuff is millions of years, the designers of the site needed a symbol that would be recognizable to our MANY times removed grandchildren as marking a very dangerous place. They had to assume the complete collapse of civilization and loss of records in a recognizable or known language that identified the place and its purpose.

It had to be universally recognizable as a warning symbol. I appreciated the inclusion of three of the other possible biohazard symbols that were considered, but I would really be interested to see ALL of the symbols that were considered. Also, I would be very interested to know about the people who did the design work and thoughts on their design process.

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Biohazard vectors and photos - free graphic resources

Hi Jeff — I searched for the full symbol set but, alas, was only able to find the few of them you see included in the article. Thank you for this article. Your email address will not be published. Hey there beautiful nerd! Drag and drop to reorder. Your playlist is stored within your cookies, clearing your browser data may remove your playlist. By submitting this form, you acknowledge that you have read the Terms of Use and Privacy Policy , that you understand them, and that you agree to be bound by them.

Ionizing radiation trefoil warning symbol Still, despite its claim to be association-free, the biohazard symbol arguably benefited from its trefoil similarity to the ionizing radiation symbol developed a few decades prior. Episode Ten Thousand Years. Teresa Newton. Normandie Rainwater.