Why Do You Need to Extract Fumes at All
There has been a significant increase of asthma diagnosis among people employed in laboratories and other such work environments. It is very important that companies make efforts to reduce these numbers significantly, and quickly. One way to do that is by installing fume cabinets in appropriate areas. It is vital that organizations take responsibility for the safety and welfare of their employees and therefore conduct regular risk assessments and put systems in place to reduce any hazards.
What Are Hazardous Substances?
There are a number of substances classed as “hazardous”. Those include:
- Biological agents like germs.
- Asphyxiating gases and other gases.
- Products that contain chemicals.
Additionally, hazardous substances are classified into the following categories:
- Highly flammable.
- Very toxic.
Meanwhile, these substances can cause dangerous to health by:
- Contact with the eyes.
Symptoms of Exposure
If someone is exposed to hazardous substances, they can experience:
- Nose bleeds.
- Sore throats.
- Eye irritation.
- Runny nose.
- Lung damage.
Unfortunately, serious diseases such as asthma and cancer are also possible. Furthermore, some of those conditions have a long latency period. A good example of that is asbestos, which can take as long as 50 years to cause the development of mesothelioma in patients.
How to Protect People from Exposure
Various tools, systems, processes, policies, and procedures have to be in place to protect workers from exposure. Fume hoods and fume cabinets are two of those solutions. It is very important that all fumes are properly filtered. Using a simple desktop fan is completely insufficient. In fact, they don’t filter fumes at all. Rather, they diffuse them, simply blowing them around the workspace.
Usually, a proper filtration system will have a pump or brushless fan unit, as well as various filters. Those filters include HEPA filters for the very small particles, a pre-filter for the larger particles, and a chemical or carbon filter that removes smells and vapors. It is also possible to remove the HEPA filter and put a deep bed carbon filter in place, but only for very specific substances.
Unfortunately, a lot of these systems are quite expensive and this is leading to certain industries not employing them when they should. One example of this is nail salons, where low-pressure fans are used that pick up the dust released following a manicure. However, if you have ever been in a salon, you will notice the smell of ketones and acetone. If they can be smelled, they are in the environment and they are harmful.
It is very important that you invest in the welfare of both your employees and your customers. This means that you have to spend a little bit more, but you should see a return on investment on it. After all, employees becoming ill can lead to lost work and productivity, as well as in significant lawsuits. This, again, is something that can be seen with mesothelioma.