In a laboratory environment, especially one dealing with complex scientific experiment or research, risk exposure to harmful gases and chemicals. Protective gear like a respirator or gas mask can protect them from exposure, but a fume extraction system should be installed to ensure that the air of the lab environment remains clean and free from contaminants.
As an employer, the employee’s safety in the work place is of top priority. Laboratory fume hoods can play an important role in keeping the lab environment healthy and ensuring that the workers remain productive and safe. However, since there are different varieties of fume hoods available in the market, there are certain factors to be considered before selecting what’s best for you. Here are the most important ones listed below. (Information credit: http://www.rdm-ind.com/x-fumehood)
Factors to Consider –
– Considering the Chemicals used in the Operation:
Fume hoods are mainly used to clean the air of all contaminants including hazardous or poisonous gases that could be fatal to workers. However, there are special hood designs that deal with specific types of fumes or chemicals. So before selecting the right model, a comprehensive assessment of the chemicals used in the operations should be made. Many a time, manufacturers themselves have representatives that produce a detailed report after the initial assessment. The detailed result should be examined carefully before selecting either a ducted or ductless fume hood, whichever is applicable.
– Planning according to the Work Environment:
As no two laboratory spaces are the same, fume hood systems can be customized and personalized to fit the user’s needs. A very big factor that affects the efficiency of such fume hoods is the placement of the fume hood system. The system should be installed away from doorways or air conditioning, as these affect the airflow and does not allow the system to work properly. It should be noted that the movement of people as well as the room’s ventilation are important factors that decide the fume hood’s efficiency. Once the user has assessed where he or she will install the system, he can then choose between a table-top model or a full sized model, whichever is convenient to the workers and does not disrupt the workflow.
– Size of Enclosure:
A fume hood system with an enclosure that allows at least five inches of space behind the sash is preferred. It should have enough space to avoid contact with the roof or airfoil with the emitted chemicals. In an operation requiring procedures with a lot of solvents, open top units efficiently capture hazardous vapours. In case of handling inflammable substances, an enclosure must contain enough space for installing a fire extinguisher, for the unlikely event of a fire.
– Installation Costs:
As every type of fume hood is used for serving different purposes, the prices and installation costs differ depending on the working environment to be installed in, and of course, the type of fume hoods chosen. Many manufacturers offer installation for free and charge only for maintenance. So choosing a rate that matches with your budget is the wisest thing to do. There are many qualified fume hood manufacturers who have professionally trained staff that can efficiently handle and are well versed with all types of systems. Hence their rate depends on the amount of time and effort required to install the product.
– Air-flow Monitors:
Dealing with dangerous and hazardous chemical fumes and gases can be a complex agenda, even more so since most gases are colourless and some are even odourless. This makes it difficult for manual detection in case there is a gas leak. Hence, a good fume hood manufacturer should have a system that complies with all the safety standards and regulations in the industry. They should also have a competent airflow monitoring system. An airflow monitoring system warns its users if there is any problem with the flow of air inside the hood. They usually sound an alarm whenever its velocity goes up to a level that poses a threat. Newer systems have automated sash sensors which can close the system down if there are any anomalies.
Over time, fume hood systems have evolved to a point where they allow for maximum efficiency and effective purification. Updated engineering designs and advancements in technology have aided manufacturers to offer fume hoods with guaranteed high performance. The overall agenda of selecting a fume hood system is to ensure that the work environment is safe and secure for all employees in order to allow efficient and uninterrupted productivity. Thus, when selecting a fume hood, the above factors have to be kept in mind, especially if it is being installed for a laboratory with complex scientific procedures. Quality should never be compromised on in favour of lower prices.