Airflow issues persist at CDC bioterror germ lab

A major bioterror laboratory at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta has run into repeated airflow system issues, according to internal emails and government documents.

The CDC said that there have been no germ releases and no one has been hurt, Associated Press reports.

The airflow systems in the $214 million facility are meant to prevent the release of infectious agents such as anthrax, pathogenic influenza, monkeypox and other pathogens that could be used as biological weapons.

In one incident in February, air from a potentially contaminated lab briefly blew into a corridor where visitors weren't wearing any protective gear.

"Fortunately, this unique facility has multiple systems in place that provide appropriate redundancy, so when there is an incident, the public's safety, as well as worker safety, is not compromised," a CDC statement said, according to Associated Press.

Richard Ebright, a Rutgers University biosafety expert, said that the problems revealed in the documents seem to be major laboratory operating standard violations.

"(The CDC documents) raise serious concerns," Ebright said, according to USA Today. "There appear to be significant irregularities. (The CDC's own inspectors) would flag (these) as major violations in inspections of non-CDC facilities."

The CDC inspects its own labs and oversees work throughout the nation relating to toxins or germs that have potential bioterror use.