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Approximately 5 million employees in Germany carry out activities at workplaces where biological agents occur. Biological agents are bacteria, viruses, and fungi, but also cell cultures and parasites. The number of all characterised biological agents exceeds several thousand species including their genetically modified forms. The diversity among biological agents ranges from the common and harmless baker's yeast to the contagious and highly lethal Ebola virus. Work-related activities with biological agents involve manufacturing, use and release, e.g. in laboratories, health care units, animal husbandries, and waste industries. Employees coming into direct contact with hazardous biological agents are at particularly high health risk. Besides the risk of infections, these contacts may also involve health disorders from sensitizing and toxic properties of biological agents. The discovery of novel and mutated biological agents, changes in global as well as regional working environment as well as climate change constitute challenges for current occupational health.
BAuA's unit 4.7 'Biological Agents' has its main activities in research and development, knowledge transfer, political consulting, sovereign functions, management of the Committee on Biological Agents (ABAS) and participation in different ABAS working groups.
The main tasks are as follows: