Laboratory environments in educational establishments working with hazardous materials require specialised mechanical ventilation equipment to ensure the health and safety of employees and pupils. There is always a risk of accidents happening where there is a large variety of chemicals stored and ongoing operations producing vapours and corrosive gases. Laboratories with a lot of activity generally contain several fume cupboards which helps in providing a pollution free workspace. Older students sitting exams are required to complete certain hazardous studies involving the production of substances such as sulphur dioxide, so it is imperative that all health and safety regulations are met.
In April 2014, a fire, which started in a small domestic refrigerator, caused over £100,000 worth of damage to science equipment and rooms at a Preston based college.
The specialist ‘Plant & Soil science’ laboratories were rapidly refurbished in order to get them ready in time for the start of the new college year and this included the installation of a number of SEAT fume extract fans from Axair.
The SEAT S35 models were applied to the extract hoods over the laboratory furnaces. Supplied complete they were delivered with weather pedestals, flexible connectors, anti-vibration mounts and flanges. We also supplied an S20 fan for use with a small specto-analyser.
Manufactured from an anti-corrosive polypropylene, SEAT fans are particularly popular in educational facilities, not only because of their resistance to chemical impairment, but also due to their minimal noise emissions, simple control & monitoring, and their easy installation. As stated by the Association for Science Education fume cupboards are safety devices, used to minimise exposure to hazardous fumes, gases or dusts. They are examples of ‘local exhaust ventilation’ and operate by using a fan to draw air from the laboratory through an opening at the front and often discharging it at roof level to the atmosphere. The toxic air would be discharged where there is an open space to avoid the possibility of it flowing back into the building.
It is important that both staff and pupils know the health and safety requirements when working with fume hoods. Anyone working with fume cupboards should always keep a safe distance from the hood to make sure that they do not absorb any of the contaminant’s mid operation. The exhaust system needs to be kept clean and free from other surrounding electronics and items should never be stored in the cupboards as it can block the airflow and interrupt an operation. Chemicals should be stored safely in the correct cabinet or storage room with safe ventilation. Fume cupboards need to be regularly checked to make sure they are clean, that there are no blockages in the hood which could restrict airflow and any spills should be cleaned up immediately. Fume extraction systems should be serviced annually to ensure continuous safe operation.
If a ventilation system in a laboratory is not set up correctly or malfunctions it poses a serious health risk and can lead to short and long-term illnesses consequently. Fumes and dust can cause respiratory disease or aggravate a person’s existing condition such as Asthma. A publication by the Health and Safety Authority explains how Poor fume extraction design and/or maintenance may lead to pollution exposure in a laboratory rather than preventing it. Furthermore, how a poorly designed, installed, misused and incorrectly maintained system can become an expensive waste of expenditure and may give a false impression of hazard control. It is also states that Employees must be given training in the use and maintenance of a fume exhaust system so to understand the correct use and effectiveness. Many employers and employees overestimate the effectiveness of the different types of local exhaust ventilation and have a poor understanding of the types of conditions that could lead to a reduction in or depletion of its effectiveness.
Axair can provide a range of polypropylene exhaust fans dedicated for any size of laboratory fume cupboard. As well as laboratory fume cupboard ventilation, polypropylene fans can also be used in factory plant rooms or to assist the control of fumes generated by hazardous manufacturing processes. Our team of specialist Product Engineers have worked with hundreds of schools, colleges and universities over the years, identifying the most suitable fan system for their facilities and application; whilst ensuring competitive pricing and lead times.
As well as laboratory fume cupboard ventilation, polypropylene fans can also be used in factory plant rooms or to assist the control of fumes generated by hazardous manufacturing processes.
Contact one of our Product Engineers today to hear more about our range of SEAT fume extract fans.