Bringing Fresh Air to the Lab

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Bringing Fresh Air to the Lab

Types of Laboratory Ventilation

Controlling the ventilation and air quality in the laboratory is often one of the more difficult tasks when planning the environment. Whilst air quality may have a direct (and unwanted) impact upon any research carried out in the laboratory, it is vital that all members of the research team are provided with a positive working environment.

There are two main types of ventilation used in research facilities and commercial labs: natural ventilation and mechanical ventilation – helping to reduce containments in the air within different environments.

Natural Ventilation

Relying upon wind pressure to pump the research labs full of fresh air through vents, natural ventilation is affected by wind speed, direction and the shape of the building. It can be hard to control and manage natural ventilation – with air becoming stagnant if doors and windows are kept closed.

Cooler air entering in at lower levels will rise and escape through roof vents or higher level windows. This process can be more environmentally friendly and inexpensive to run than the mechanical ventilation but can leave the workplace vulnerable to the conditions.

Mechanical Ventilation

Mechanical ventilation such as air conditioning units can help control the temperature and quality of the air entering into the laboratory. These systems can be used to control the humidity and the general comfort of the environment.

Mechanical Ventilation can be controlled more tightly than natural ventilation – but is unlikely to remove all contaminants in the air. This means that laboratories may need an additional supply of fresh air, pumped throughout the environment to maintain the wellbeing of the research team.

Standardisation of Ventilation

The Workplace (Health, Safety and Welfare) Regulations 1992, dictated that all employers were required to ensure that all enclosed workplaces were ventilated with a sufficient quantity of fresh or purified air. The regulations stipulated that the fresh air supply rate should never fall below 5 to 8 litres per second, per occupant.

To accurately provide sufficient air supply to the research team within the laboratory, it is important to consider the amount of floor space, work activity and airborne contaminants. The latter is particularly important in laboratories working with potentially hazardous materials and chemicals. When planning a ventilation system for a laboratory, consider all of the work which will be carried out in the environment in the short term and long term alike.

If the prospect of designing and developing a cutting edge laboratory which offers a healthy and beneficial work environment for your research team seems a little bit daunting, the InterFocus team will be able to help every step of the way. For more details about how InterFocus can help you, visit our homepage or call our dedicated team on 01223 894833.

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