The city of Boston plans to toughen up laboratory safety protocols after revelations that three Boston University (BU) researchers were accidentally infected with a lethal strain of tularemia they thought was harmless.

The illnesses last year were made public January 18 by university and public health authorities, a day before a "dirty bomb" scare rocked the city. That was some 2 months after BU reported the cases to public health officials.

Word of the contaminations—two last May and one in September—and the delay in making them public intensified controversy over plans to build a $178 million Biosafety Level 4 (BSL-4) research lab at BU in a crowded urban neighborhood.

Some critics accused authorities of delaying the revelations until after public hearings on the BSL-4 lab, which earlier this month won approval from the city's zoning commission.

While federal investigators probed how a deadly strain of tularemia wound up in a...

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