Choosing the correct chemical containment solution within a laboratory can be a difficult task and ensuring worker protection from exposure to harmful materials or practices is essential. A large part of this responsibility is in ensuring that the workplace is safe and secure and that personnel are adequately trained to operate all the equipment that they may use in the commission of their duties.

While the Control of Substances Hazardous to Health (COSHH) regulations lay down guidelines on when protection against a certain chemical or particulate is required, they do not provide guidance about which type of containment or extraction system is the most suitable.

We’ve provided a checklist against which the choice of chemical containment cabinets may be measured. Monmouth Scientific carry out a full evaluation of the hazards and risks before any equipment is selected and believe in working with customers to ensure that all laboratory personnel fully understand the environmental safety equipment in place.

Filtration Fume Cupboard

Monmouth’s Circulaire® Filtration Fume Cupboard operates by pulling in air through the front aperture and away from the user, offering a high level of operator protection. However, instead of venting air to the atmosphere as a Ducted Fume Cupboard, the exhaust air is filtered and returned to the laboratory via an Activated Carbon Filter.

Environmentally, the Filtration Fume Cupboard enjoys considerable benefits. Activated Carbon Filters neutralise pollutants and eliminate harmful discharge to the environment. The recirculatory airflow also eliminates the need for laboratory make-up air and integration into ventilation system controls.

The recirculation principle also allows great flexibility. Should the nature of the chemical hazard change, the Carbon Filters are quickly and inexpensively changed to suit many different applications. As there is no physical attachment to a fixed ducting system, installation costs are eliminated as the unit can be simply placed on an existing bench, plugged in and used. New ducting, associated building work, and changes to the laboratory’s heating and ventilation systems are eradicated and, if changes are necessary to the laboratory’s layout, the unit can be re-positioned easily.

The utmost care must be taken to select the correct type of charcoal filters and regular testing carried out to enable filter life to be estimated. To aid this, all Monmouth Fume Cupboards are fitted with airflow and carbon filter monitoring systems.

Ducted Fume Cupboards

Traditionally, containing noxious fumes has been the domain of the fume cupboard and extraction system. These employ a very simple but, from the laboratory’s perspective, highly effective approach.

Waste fumes and gases are pumped straight out of the laboratory and vented into the atmosphere and replaced by uncontaminated, ambient air drawn in from the surrounding laboratory. This constant, inward flow of air through the front working aperture ensures that chemical fumes cannot overcome the operator or make their way into the surrounding laboratory atmosphere.

There are two fundamental disadvantages to consider. Although personnel inside the laboratory are safeguarded, expelling untreated air may expose everyone in the area to the fumes unless great care is taken with the design and siting of the flue stack. Additionally, every litre of air pumped out of the laboratory and into the atmosphere must be replaced with air drawn from the laboratory itself. Since this air is heated, possibly even air-conditioned, this will inevitably increase the energy bill and contribute in a small way to global warming.

Our guide to the types of chemical hazard containment solutions available to help you build a safe working environment has given you an awareness of the strengths and weaknesses of each type. Knowing how to apply these principles in your own working environment may not be so straightforward.

For more information on how our Market Leading Clean Air Solutions can benefit you, contact Monmouth Scientific’s Technical Sales Experts on;+44(0)1278 458090 or email info@monmouthscientific.co.uk.