In any laboratory, employers should take the necessary measures to protect the occupants from dangerous chemical contaminants. A fume extraction system is one of the most important safety mechanisms every laboratory should have. The system works to minimize a person’s exposure to chemicals and particles that are potentially hazardous. Unfortunately,choosing the right fume hoodis a common challenge to many. Here is what we recommend.
Conduct a Thorough Hazard Analysis
You must undertake a comprehensive analysis of the laboratory to determine potential causes of hazards. This should involve determining exactly which chemicals or particulates are in the laboratory and their potential risks. A good approach here is to consult the Material Safety Data Sheets (MSDSs) document and do air monitoring to determine the concentrations of the contaminants the occupants are exposed to at any given moment. You can use detector tubes and digital equipment to identify the concentration levels of contaminants in the air. You can get the detector tubes from the fume hood manufacturer. They are also available in local stores dealing with exhaust fume hoods.
Choose a Lab Fume Hood that Matches What is Being Done
A thorough analysis of the chemicals being used and their effects on the occupants makes choosing a fume hood simpler. It is also important to acknowledge that there is a wide variety of hoods out there, and each one of them has a specific function. For instance, if the laboratory handles a lot of corrosive chemicals, it might need a fume hood that is highly resistant to corrosion. If the lab work involves a lot of powders or fumes, then a hood that works on a bench might be a perfect option. Those who work with hot particles may consider radioisotope hoods. You will get all the information about the equipment you need from the fume hood manufacturer.
Select an Adequate Enclosure
It is important to choose a fume hood with an enclosure that can allow up to seven inches of space behind the sash. Enough space is necessary for safety when removing or placing items in the unit. The fume hood should also leave some room so that the items stored inside do not touch the airfoil at the front end. If there are solvents, a bench top unit can provide a more effective solution than a permanent hood. A bench top unit is also more capable of capturing hazardous chemicals when compared to a permanent hood.
Choose an Energy-Efficient Fume
Energy efficiency is an important aspect every person must take into consideration when purchasing a lab fume hood. The most popular energy-efficient units are the ones that apply the concept of variable-air-volume (VAV). Applying this concept during design and construction prevents the unit from drawing air when not in use, saving energy in the process. Another viable option is the use of dual positioned or two-speed systems. These hoods cost less than the VAV variants and allow users to save a lot of money upfront.
Consider a Ductless Fume Hood
Ductless exhaust fume hoods are capable of removing hazardous vapors, particles and fumes at a lower cost. Their installation cost is almost half that of the traditional fume hoods since no ductwork is needed. However, it is important to determine whether the general application in the laboratory is appropriate for a ductless fume. Most ductless fume hoods are limited to a number of chemicals and certain amount of heat. The chemical volumes should not exceed 500mls.
Choosing the right fume hood is a critical process. Any wrong move can lead to life-threatening accidents and huge losses. Observe the basics discussed above, and you will have yourself to thank later.