Is it necessary to use a fume hood for chemical handling? You may have to handle hazardous chemicals in the laboratory, which is why protective devices such as chemical hoods are used. The purpose of a chemical hood is to ensure the safety of the operator by extracting toxic or dangerous gases. This piece of equipment shouldn’t be mistaken with the laboratory glovebox, whose role is to protect the products handled, the environment and the operator. Here are the essentials to know in order to choose the right equipment for your particular purposes.
The chemical hood for laboratory use
The chemical hood is a piece of equipment that captures and filters toxic or undesirable molecules and particles emitted by products or substances used during chemical treatments. It thus protects the operator during the operation. The device can be opened or connected to an extraction network.
To rid the work surface of chemical fumes, the chemical hood has a suction cone, as well as fans, filters and exhaust fans. There are also models with lighting or with hood cabins, i.e. side walls that limit the area to be extracted. The laboratory hood can treat the chemicals used with the help of filters. The exhaust ducts discharge the exhaust air to the outside. A distinction is made between two types of chemical hoods depending on the air treatment method:
- The fume hood with activated carbon or particulate filters where the filters remove toxic elements before redirecting the exhaust air into the room.
- The exhaust hood with extraction to the outside where ducts ensure the evacuation of both the air treated and not treated.
The filters integrated in the chemical hoods are not exactly the same but comply with the standard NF EN 1822 – 1. While a pre-filter captures large particles, the main filter absorbs the remaining molecules and particles. This may be EPA, HEPA, ULPA, activated carbon or UltraViolet filters. HEPA (99.97% effective on particles > 0.3 µm) and ULPA (99.99% effective > 0.12 µm) filters are the most commonly used. UV filters are capable of killing micro-organisms (bacteria, microbes, viruses, moulds, etc.).
Use of the chemical hood: all chemical manipulations where the TWA (Mean Exposure Value of the most toxic product used) is above 400 ppm and where a closed volume is not required.
The glovebox for chemical manipulations
The glovebox is another type of laboratory equipment with a much higher level of safety for the protection of the operator, the environment and the substances or products handled. It is a closed, watertight and hermetic volume that allows working on dangerous or sensitive samples from the outside thanks to gloves firmly attached to transparent walls. Its use avoids external and internal contamination. In addition, its environment is controlled to simplify chemical handling.
There are two categories of gloveboxes:
- The glovebox designed for the containment of dangerous substances such as pathogens, carcinogenic substances, toxic and allergenic products, radioactive materials, etc.
- The glovebox for the containment in an inert atmosphere (free of oxygen, water and traces of solvents) under argon or nitrogen of hygroscopic, oxidizable or pyrochoric compounds and materials.
Use of the glovebox: laboratory operations involving the handling of radioactive or toxic elements, water- or air-sensitive materials/products, volatile substances, etc. and where the TWA is below 1 ppm.
Although the glovebox and the chemical hood make it possible to secure risky chemical manipulations, the glove box is essential when samples cannot be exposed to the open air and must be protected from all contamination. Thus, the glovebox offers triple protection: for the product, the environment and the handler.
Jacomex, supplier and manufacturer of laboratory gloveboxes
For more than 70 years, Jacomex has been designing and supplying high-quality, high-performance laboratory gloveboxes to the scientific community worldwide. Whatever the field of use, this manufacturer offers both standard containment solutions and customised solutions tailored to the constraints of your operations. Jacomex’s design office is at your disposal to design equipment adapted to your needs in terms of technologies, dimensions, accessories, etc. Jacomex gloveboxes and isolators are designed for laboratories and research institutes, industries, scientific and university research, pharmaceutical-medical, nuclear processes, high-risk processes, etc.
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