Can A Bio-Safety Cabinet Be Used As A Fume Hood?

Bio-safety cabinets and fume hoods are similar in appearance and both are used in laboratories to protect laboratory workers. With these similarities, one may wonder: Can a bio-safety cabinet be used as a fume hood? To answer this question, let’s go over the functions of each piece of equipment. 

What is a fume hood?

A chemical fume hood, often referred to as simply a fume hood is designed to move the airflow containing harmful aerosols and chemical vapors away from the operator. The air containing harmful vapors is continuously moved away from the laboratory employee and pushed through the building’s exhaust system and into the air outside. The primary function of a fume hood is to protect laboratory personnel.

What is a bio-safety cabinet?

Bio-safety cabinets remove solid particles from the air; the hazardous particulates are removed with high-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filters before the air recirculates back into the laboratory. Though equipped with a HEPA filter, the filter cannot stop harmful gas vapors from being recirculated. The function of a bio-safety cabinet is to protect the user, the material being worked on, and the environment. 

Can a bio-safety cabinet be used as a fume hood?

While they may appear similar, a bio-safety cabinet and a fume hood are not exchangeable. The HEPA filters in a bio-safety cabinet will not trap or offer protection from gasses or chemical vapors before recirculating the air back to the laboratory. A fume hood, on the other hand, will move the contaminated air completely away from the work area and release it outdoors via the ductwork of the building. Using a bio-safety cabinet as a fume hood could have severe adverse ramifications and create a significant safety hazard. If you have questions or need assistance in choosing the right product for your laboratory, please don’t hesitate to contact us.