South African laboratory equipment supplier Labotec says its supply of air-filtration protection equipment for laboratory personnel, which is manufactured by global laboratory equipment manufacturer Erlab, ensures chemists’ safety in laboratories.
Labotec product manager Ashmita Rajkumar tells Engineering News that the company is the exclusive supplier in Southern Africa of Erlab’s CaptairFlex ductless fume hoods and the CaptairStore storage cabinets.
She adds that, with these products, Labotec has focused on supplying equipment that protects chemical laboratory personnel, specifically chemists, from inhaling harmful gases emitted by chemicals.
“Most chemists ignore the permissible exposure limit (PEL) values of chemicals. In some instances, PEL values can be extremely low and difficult to detect, thereby endangering the health of laboratory personnel in the long term.
“Subsequently, and according to a study done in the early 1990s on Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) in the US, the life expectancy of a chemist who has been constantly exposed to high PEL levels is shortened by at least ten years compared with any person who has not been exposed to high PEL levels.
“In addition, according to a study commissioned by the American Medical Association, 16% of pregnant female chemists in the US would experience complications during their pregnancies and with their babies, as a result of such exposure,” she explains.
Rajkumar says that the protection products that Labotec made available to the Southern African market have been met with positive market reception globally, adding that “more than 100 000 CaptairFlex and CaptairStore cabinets have been sold worldwide, particularly in the US, Europe and Japan”.
CaptairFlex Ductless Fume Hoods
Labotec has been supplying the CaptairFlex ductless fume hoods to the Southern African market since the product was created in 1968, states company marketing manager Debbie Shaw.
The CaptairFlex is a safety workstation used to protect chemists when handling hazardous chemicals. Unlike ducted fume cupboards, it filters contaminated air and returns clean air into the room.
“The CaptairFlex fume hoods are easy to install, do not require any duct air and can be installed at any location in the lab.
“The fume hoods also have the added benefit of saving on energy costs, as no energy is used for air conditioning. There is no limit to the number of fume hoods that can be installed in the same laboratory room and they do not pollute the environment,” details Shaw.
Further, some of the CaptairFlex’s benefits include flexibility, as the fume hood can easily be placed on a laboratory’s benchtop or rolling cart. Moreover, each unit comes with a unique follow-up procedure called Erlab safety programme, which allows for full control of the CaptairFlex system.
This chemical storage unit has been designed to store chemicals used in a laboratory. The filtered storage cabinets reduce inhalation risks associated with the concentration of vapours in the laboratory air.
“The storage unit eliminates the concentration of toxic vapours and noxious odours from laboratory air. It has an automatic filter saturation alarm and its filtration system has been tested in accordance with French air-filtration standard AFNOR NFX 15-211,” explains Shaw.
The CaptairStore has a storage capacity ranging from 10 ℓ to 240 ℓ, with double compartments for the storage of compatible and/or incompatible chemicals. The unit has noncorrosive, sliding polypropylene shelves with a built-in spill tray, and is easy to relocate in a laboratory.
Owing to environmental considerations, its maximum energy consumption is
34 W, with no direct gas emissions into the atmosphere. In addition, it allows for clean air recirculation, which contributes to the laboratory ambient air purification.
The CaptairStore has a fan that creates a vacuum in the enclosed space of the cabinet. Ambient air of a laboratory enters into the enclosure through the ventilation intakes, located at the base of the cabinet.
Vapours that are emitted from a unit’s bottles that are stored in the enclosure are drawn toward the filtration system, after which molecular filters trap harmful molecules and unpleasant odours.
The air that is filtered back into the room does not contain any harmful substances. “In addition, it contributes to the laboratory ambient air purification and, because it works 24 hours a day, it is permanently cleaning the air of the laboratory room,” adds Shaw.
Moreover, the recirculation of the filtered air also serves to purify the ambient air of the laboratory and contributes to a healthier working environment.