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What is a Biofluid?

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  • Written By: Robin Raven
  • Edited By: C. Wilborn
  • Last Modified Date: 18 November 2016
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In the most basic terms, a biofluid is a biological fluid — a liquid made by the body itself. Biofluids can be excreted through sweat, secreted through bile, obtained through a needle when blood is drawn, or they may develop from a blister or cyst. Body water is also a biofluid, as is earwax, amniotic fluid, cerebrospinal fluid, pus, and saliva, among many others.

Biofluid is usually a term used by researchers and those in the medical profession. Most other people simply call them bodily fluids. Biofluid is also a common term used by law enforcement officers when working crime scenes. DNA is contained in many bodily fluids, and the proper, safe handling of it is something that all crime scene workers should be trained in. Analyzing biofluids can be the ultimate key in solving rape and murder cases.

Medical hygiene workers, hospitals, and doctor's offices increasingly treat biofluids as dangerous because they could potentially carry blood-borne diseases. Since the onset of AIDS and other diseases, biofluids have been treated with increasingly specialized care. Nurses and doctors have strict rules in how they are acquired, handled, and disposed. Strict biofluids management produces important infection and disease control.

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Many other people work with biofluids as well. Biofluid mechanics is the study of select problems regarding the fluid mechanics of the body. The Biofluid Mechanics Research Laboratory at the University of Michigan in the United States is dedicated to the study of biofluids. This laboratory researches things such as lung airway closures and pulmonary liquid and surfactant delivery. The aim of the research is to assist us in the understanding of biofluids and make health and scientific discoveries and improvements through that research.

Some current and past cultures of the world have met biofluids with digust or even fear and condemnation. Biofluids that have left the body are considered unclean in Hinduism, for example. Christianity, Islam, and Judaism have also treated biofluids as something of shame to varying degrees. Ritual purification is even used in some religions.

The biofluid has had an even more odd use in recent times — it has become part of art. Marc Quinn did a frozen cast of his head made entirely of his own blood in 1991, and recast it in 1996. Helen Chadwick was at the heart of much controversy when she revealed her art: 12 white-enameled bronzes that were made from cavities created from urinating in the snow. Chris Ofili, who uses elephant dung for many of his paintings, is one of many artists also opt to use biofluids in their creations.

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