Safety should be the top priority in every lab, especially those that deal with hazardous substances on a regular basis. Even breathing can be dangerous in the presence of some chemicals, which is whylaboratory fume hoodsand a solid industrial exhaust system are vital. They aren’t the only tools that a lab needs to keep its workers safe, but they should form the core of any system.
Why Use Contamination Hoods?
Many chemicals give off fumes which are invisible to the naked eye, but have the potential to cause pain, irritation, and lasting damage to the respiratory system when inhaled. Particles of dust or other chemicals can also enter the air and have a similar impact. A fume exhaust hood provides a way to contain those contaminants, which allows workers to handle a wide variety of substances in safety.
Many laboratory fume hoods have secondary benefits. For example, they offer an enclosed space that can easily contain spills for easy cleaning. Particularly strong ones also offer some protection against weak explosions that can result from laboratory errors. Those aren’t the primary reasons to use a lab fume hood, but they do serve as an extra layer of protection.
How Do They Work?
A fume exhaust hood is usually connected to an industrial exhaust system or a comparable ventilation or purification tool. That ensures that any dangerous particles that are inside the hood leave the system quickly in order to prevent them from building up to a dangerous level. The ventilation system works with the enclosed nature of the lab fume hood to make sure that the fumes do not spread towards the worker. That makes it safe to work with substances when even a small dose of the fumes could prove dangerous.
Venting and Filtration
Different contamination hoods are useful in different situations. In particular, there are multiple methods for dealing with the air supply. Some fume hoods use a system of ducts and air pumps to get rid of the contaminated air, while others run it through a filtration system.
Ducted hoods are almost universal in industrial settings. They work by constantly sucking air from the rest of the lab into the hood, and then venting that air and the contaminants out through a set of air ducts. This is advantageous in that it can handle essentially any sort of contamination safely, but the drawback is that it requires a lot of energy to run the system. Many fume hoods include other features that help to cut down on energy use, but the consumption is still significant.
Ductless systems are more popular with educational labs and other smaller facilities. Instead of getting rid of the air, these systems purify it and pump it back into the lab. Since there are no universal filters, workers need to be careful to make sure that the system can handle whatever chemicals they are using. On the other hand, they require less energy and infrastructure to use.
Keeping the Air Clean
When it comes to staying safe, nothing is more important than having clean air. There are plenty of laboratory systems that can contribute to keeping the air safe, but a fume hood is one of the most fundamental of them. It’s the first line of defense against contamination in the air, and it is usually enough to prevent problems on its own. Given that it can also help to contain messes that have the potential to turn into serious hazards, there are no labs that work with chemicals which can afford to go without one.