The Biohazard symbol has a rich and fascinating history behind its creation. While it seems abstract at first glance, both biologists and laymen quickly and easily grasp its warning. Only fifty years ago, the symbol was entirely unknown, but today we see the biohazard symbol in clinics,
labs, and even on skateboards! This now-ubiquitous symbol was created with some thorough testing and decision making by scientists and psychologists over 40 years ago.
In 1966, it became clear to scientist Charles L. Baldwin that biology laboratories lacked a proper symbol to mark the hazardous materials they used so frequently. In an article written by Baldwin and Robert S. Runkle called, Biohazards Symbol: Development of a Biological Hazards Warning Signal, they describe this particular problem: “In biology laboratories...a number of different symbols are in use; none of these has been
universally accepted, and did not imply or encompass all possible biohazards.” This was a danger to the entire biological studies
community and everyone else, since the lack of a universal symbol could cause dangerous confusion in the sciences. Containment facilities were beginning the process of keeping the workers safe,
but preventable, accidental infections of numerous laboratory personnel twenty years
proved an urgent need for a universal symbol. Baldwin decided to create an original, universal warning sign that everyone would soon recognize.