BALTIMORE (AP) — A state work group on private laboratories that handle dangerous pathogens is holding its first meeting at the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene in Baltimore.

Tuesday’s meeting could eventually lead to greater oversight of private labs with so-called bio-containment suites designed to contain harmful microbes. Such labs are monitored annually by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, or by the U.S. Agriculture Department.

The panel will identify regulatory gaps and propose measures to address any public safety risks. Its recommendations are due June 30.

The 17-member group includes representatives from the state public health, agriculture, environmental and occupational safety agencies, plus the University of Maryland and Johns Hopkins University.

Two members come from a Frederick committee that advises officials there on bio-containment issues involving Fort Detrick.

(Copyright 2012 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)


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