ATS vs BSC: Which is right for your facility?

  • Animal Transfer Stations (ATS) and Biological Safety Cabinets (BSC) may look similar structurally, however understanding the difference in these sophisticated containment machines is critical in deciding which unit is the right fit for your facility.

    Why choose an ATS? The size, ease of use and mobility allow for ergonomic cage changing processes while protecting both the animals and the personnel using the unit. Typically, an ATS is double-sided, and has a large sash opening (14”). The cost to purchase and maintain an ATS is lower than that of the BSC. While Animal Transfer Stations are essential pieces of equipment within a vivarium and are designed to exact specifications and tolerances in order to ensure proper containment, they are currently not governed by any standards and therefore can have a wide range of variability in design and performance between manufacturers. ATS units are generally not appropriate for work with biological hazards and should be reviewed with the appropriate parties prior to engaging in any procedural work beyond cage changing.

    Why choose a BSC? A BSC is governed under NSF49 (National Sanitation Foundation) standard which strictly enforces design, testing and maintaining of these cabinets. A BSC provides a level of product (animal), personnel and environmental protection that cannot be guaranteed by an ATS. These units are key when working with higher-risk agents and often times recommended under the BMBL (Biosafety in Microbiological and Biomedical Laboratories). They’re only one-sided and have limitations on sash height, which may not make for ergonomic routine cage changing, but create a stronger containment barrier. Certain classification of BSC can also be connected to the facility exhaust system to enable procedures in which chemical compounds (not captured by HEPA filters) are a research requirement.