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Explaining the Meaning of the Word Biohazard

6/8/2020 (Permalink)

The biohazard symbol is as recognizable as the red-white STOP sign and the big yellow smiley emoji but what does the biohazard symbol truly represent? It often leaves a lasting impression and is usually perceived as an indicator of a potentially risky zone. However, where does the biohazard symbol really originated from?

Biohazard Symbol Origin

The biohazard symbol which we must have encountered at least once throughout our entire life was first created by Charles Baldwin in the year 1966 along with Robert Runkle. They were from Dow Chemicals and the National Institutes of Health respectively. Fast forward to five decades later, the biohazard symbol has emerged as a universal logo for common understanding amongst industries like medical, waste removal, and science. The biohazard logo has gained so much popularity that it has made its debut in cameo appearances in modern platforms like video games, movies, and more.

Charles Baldwin first came up with the idea of the symbol as a result of working with an excessive list of dangerous chemicals. He wanted to make it obvious to people not within the industry to know exactly what to expect and to avoid the chemicals being transported. He knew exactly how the symbol should look like and it should be easily recognizable, set apart from existing symbols, no fixed up or down position, acceptable by all groups, and specific yet ambiguous.

Biohazard Symbol Display

The only rule in displaying the biohazard symbol is to ensure it is showcased with enough contrast to optimize its visibility. Some color combinations of the symbol include black and white, black and yellow, white on red, and other contrasting combinations. The symbol also needs to be large enough to create an impression that lasts.

Biohazard Categories

Some of the biohazard waste categories within the medical fields that utilize the biohazard symbol are as follows:

  • Solid biohazardous wastes (no sharps)
  • Liquid biohazardous wastes
  • Biohazardous sharp objects
  • Pathological wastes
  • Soil collection and disposal

Biohazardous products comprise more than just medical waste materials even if that is the entire perception of the general public. Any content that may cause radiation to inflict sickness deserves to display the biohazard symbol. This is the exact reason why it is easy to spot the symbol at any cleanup areas of a crime scene and biohazard locations that deal with dead bodies, blood, and biohazard vehicles.

Biohazard Symbol in a Modern Setting

Today, the biohazard symbol can be spotted in modern settings when being used by subcultural groups, LGBTQ communities, and awareness societies. They utilize the symbol with a twist that holds an ironic message which the participants hope to convey across through the famous logo. Only a certain percentage of viewers would often catch the hidden agenda of the biohazard symbol usage by these groups but the general term the symbol often refers to is simply “danger”. Regardless of the given scenario, simply stay away should you come across such a symbol in the future.

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