Most people are familiar with the biohazard symbol that can be seen on different biohazard labels, which are used to warn people of possible threats to their health and safety.
Here are 8 interesting things you probably didn’t know about the biohazard symbol.
1. The biohazard symbol was invented in 1966
Before 1966, there was no universally recognized biohazard symbol. Many symbols were used for different hazardous substances, but none of them were universally accepted, which could cause some confusion in laboratories. Scientist Charles L. Baldwin, working for the Dow Chemical Company, decided to change that.
2. The biohazard symbol had to meet different criteria
Charles L. Baldwin worked with the Dow Marketing and Package Design department to search for the perfect symbol. They were searching for a symbol that would be easy to recognize and to recall, easy to reproduce, and symmetrical. It also needed to draw attention, and to not be offensive to any ethnicity.
3. The biohazard symbol is now accepted by everyone
The hard work of the creators of the biohazard symbol paid off. Their symbol has quickly been accepted by the Centers for Disease Control, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, and the National Institutes of Health, and is now universally recognized. Everyone knows they have to be careful whenever they see it.
4. Biohazard labels are easy to recognize
The biohazard symbol is black, and is usually placed on a bright yellow or orange background, which makes it impossible to miss. Since the symbol is symmetrical and three-sided, it doesn’t matter if biohazard labels are placed upside down: the symbol is still recognizable, from any angle.
5. There are 4 levels of biohazards
On biohazard labels, different information can be added next to the symbol. For example, there are 4 levels of biohazards: level 1 is for bacteria and viruses that only pose a minimal risk, while level 4 is for viruses that spread quickly and can’t be treated.
6. The biohazard symbol can be found everywhere
The biohazard symbol can be found in laboratories, on containers and on trash cans, but it has also become a part of popular culture. Indeed, it can be seen in many movies, series and video games, and you can even find it on some pieces of clothing, on skateboards, and on other items.
7. The biohazard symbol is in the public domain
The biohazard symbol is now in the public domain, which means that anyone can use it without paying any royalties. That probably explains why the symbol is being used on so many objects. Of course, biohazard labels and signs remain the most important purpose of the symbol.
8. You can make your own biohazard labels
Different models of biohazard labels can be purchased online, but did you know you could also make your own? Many companies allow you to customize your biohazard labels so they can meet your needs. Other labels have blank spaces where you can write some additional instructions.