Many research institutions and laboratories use containment devices to protect users from the hazards they are working with. Laboratory hoods are a class of devices that safely contain and/or remove dangerous biological and chemical contaminants before they escape into the laboratory or environment. From benchtop models to walk-in units, laboratory hoods are used in fields ranging from chemistry to life sciences. Laboratory hoods are classified by application as cell culture hoods, tissue culture hoods, laminar flow hoods, PCR hoods, and biosafety cabinets. The common feature of these devices is to provide laminar airflow to a clean work area, but not all these devices can provide the same level of protection. Laminar flow clean bench, also known as laminar flow hood, provides a sterile space to process biological samples without contamination by particulates such as microorganisms. The laminar flow clean bench does not provide protection for the user or the environment because the air flow is directly out of the cabinet. A biosafety cabinet (BSC) is an enclosed, ventilated workspace that protects laboratory staff and the surrounding environment from pathogens. All exhaust air is filtered by HEPA to remove bacteria and viruses before leaving the biosafety cabinet.
Conventional ducted hoods are connected to the ductwork system to deliver the contaminated air outside the facility. The ductless hoods are stand-alone devices that filter contaminated air and recirculate clean air back into the room. Although ducted hoods may consume large amounts of energy, they can handle a variety of chemicals, and are easy to operate and maintain, which can keep the laboratory almost free from contamination. If environmental concerns are top of mind, a ductless model might be a better option. In addition, ductless fume hoods are more versatile in terms of placement and can be moved to different locations if needed.
In the selection of laboratory hood, the first consideration should be the application, including the sample type and the experimental process to which the laboratory hood will be applied. Attention should be paid to whether the sample is toxic, flammable, or corrosive. For less toxic work, ductless hoods using filters to control airborne hazards may qualify. Other considerations are the performance and size of the laboratory hood, as well as cost.
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