Differences between Biosafety Cabinets & Fume Hoods

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Clean RoomKeeping your laboratory safe and fume free should be a top priority. No matter what chemical compounds you’re working with, properly installed systems can remove fumes, vapors, and filter the air within your space. Biological safety cabinets or fume hoods are essential to the safety of every laboratory. While different, these two protective devices are equally important to the health and stability of your area. Understanding the difference between the two makes it easier to select the option that works best for you and your team.

Fume Hoods

Fume hoods are enclosures complete with ventilation systems. They’re designed to remove chemical fumes and vapors from the laboratory space. These hoods are placed over specific areas within the work area to provide personal protection from hazardous compounds. Fume hoods have been shown to reduce odor, toxic gases, reactive materials, carcinogens, flammables, and volatile materials. The fume hood enclosure is designed to protect the person below. Beginning from the face of the equipment, the air is drawn away from the worker and across the work surface. It is then transported through the ductwork where it becomes diluted. Finally, the air is released into the atmosphere. In order for a fume hood to be successful, undisrupted airflow is necessary. Because of this, fume hoods should only be installed in areas where large equipment won’t block the ventilation. The sash should be kept closed as much as possible to ensure the air flows freely.

Biosafety Cabinets

Laboratory Fume HoodsBiosafety cabinets function much differently than fume hoods. While fume hoods only protect the person in the workspace directly underneath, biosafety cabinets provide a much larger area of protection. These devices utilize HEPA filters to provide not only personal protection but also environmental protection too. Depending on the need of the lab, biosafety cabinets can either recirculate or exhaust the air that is filtered through the system. Biosafety cabinets are suitable for use when working with infectious microorganisms, viruses, bacteria, and other hazardous material. There are different classes of biosafety cabinets. They range from providing gas-tight enclosures with air intake and exhaustion to an air intake that draws safely around the lab operator. Each classification has different purposes and is beneficial in different capacities.

Selecting the Right System

Both biosafety cabinets and fume hoods have a place in laboratory environments. When selecting a system for your workspace, it’s important that you analyze your needs. The type of chemicals and microorganisms that you’ll be working with will play a large role in determining which system will provide the most protection. It’s also vital that you determine whether or not you’re looking to protect your staff members or simply to protect a product. Once you’ve thoroughly examined your laboratory needs, it’s much easier to determine which system will provide the results that you need. Once you’ve chosen the equipment for your space, it must be certified and inspected regularly. Fume hood and biosafety cabinet testing do more than just ensure that your system is functioning properly. It certifies that it’s able to perform all the required tasks. This testing will determine whether or not the inflow, airflow, HEPA filters, and noise level is all within the appointed ranges. Not only does this prevent future mechanical problems, but it also keeps you and your lab protected while you work. If your system is need of testing, contact the experts at Atlantic Technical Systems today.