When speaking about hoods, the two words "filtered" and "ductless" mean the exact same thing. Different companies use different words to describe the exact same safety product. A ductless (or filtered) fume hood is one that incorporates filters that are designed to trap or capture particulate matter and gases.
As a consumer, what you must think about is who you buy that safety solution from and why. Not all hoods are the same; some have add-ons or accessories while other hoods are sold complete with everything you need for full operation. Companies in the filtered or ductless hoods field approach your safety in different ways. As a consumer with likely only a minimal understanding of filtered or ductless hoods, you are faced with the dilemma of trying to figure out what you truly need rather than just what would be nice to have. You need a basic guide that walks you through one of the most important purchases in your laboratory, the instrument that keeps you safe!
Mystaire has developed this guide to filtered or ductless fume hoods to assist you in your selection. While Mystaire produces various kinds of fume hoods, this guide will allow you to ask critical questions when comparing our products to other manufacturers in the industry. We welcome the comparison and look forward to working with you in your selection process.
The first question you should consider when talking with us or our competitors is, "Can the company validate your application to ensure the filter performance matches your desired or expected life span. If it can, then how? If not, why not?" At Mystaire, we utilize an application worksheet that can be completed alongside one of our specialists or you have the option to complete it on your own timeline through the Mystaire website. The data collected in this assessment allows our team to work with our scientists and use over 70 years of filtration experience to properly determine if a filtered or ductless solution will be safe for you. Not all applications are right for a filtered hood solution.
Once we or our competitors have provided you with the hood or workstation that they feel will meet your application challenges, you should next begin a discussion related to the materials of construction of the product. Simply ask if they are compatible with the application you want to complete inside the hood. Not all construction materials or processes are compatible with all chemicals. For example: have you ever tried to clean acrylic with an alcohol, like IPA? You quickly learn they are not compatible. This is what you want to avoid for your fume hood and application.
As you continue your discussion with the manufacturer, you should question them to understand how they ensure your safety other than by confirming the filters will capture your chemical application. Do they have a method for face velocity monitoring and is it included in the price of the product, or will that be an add-on? How reliable is the face velocity monitor and how does it work? Does it do anything beyond monitoring? Can it control airflow velocities and alter blower speed if necessary? Does the monitoring system have a built-in alarm to warn you if your safety is compromised? All this may sound trivial, but if you are busy working inside a hood, you don't have time to keep an eye on a gauge and make alterations to blower speed while completing your experiment. As a result, any built-in airflow controller should be microprocessor controlled with audible and visible alarms and should also allow you to set a desired face velocity. This can help bring peace of mind and allow you to focus on your work. That is what Mystaire and our EverSafe III microprocessor controller will do for you.
Standards and guidelines for performance and operation are available for most any product you buy. A ductless or filtered hood is no different. Next, you need to verify if the manufacturer can provide documentation and assurance that the product, they are quoting you and recommending for your safety is compliant to any relevant standards or guidelines. For example, is the hood compliant with OSHA (Occupational Safety and Health Administration) 29 CFR 1910.1450 or AAMI/ANZI Z9.5? Depending on the application, other standards and guidelines maybe applicable, but the manufacture should be able to share this information with you.
When you are reviewing the company's proposed safety solution, also think about the after-sales service of your product. How is the product shipped to you? If you have a problem, who or where do you call to remedy the issues? Do they offer support outside the standard 8-5 or 9-6 windows within your particular time zone? Could you elect to purchase an extended service plan? Will they visit to change out filters and verify the hood's operation for you when necessary? All these things are added value when working with a company that supports the product and does not see the interaction with you as simply transactional. At Mystaire, we value our relationship with our customers and are eager to work with you for the life of our products. We are more than just a products company; we are a service provider in the business of ensuring your safety.
Probably one of the last things you think about could be one of, if not the most, important consideration to your safety: the workspace. Do you have adequate space to move around freely and not compromise hood containment or accidentally spill liquids that will ultimately affect the hood's filter life? If you have equipment inside the workspace, can you effectively work with the equipment while operating the hood per manufacturer guidelines or will the equipment affect airflow or create conditions within the hood that are averse to your safety and wellbeing? Your level of comfort is important as many applications require hours of working to be done inside or in front of the hood. At Mystaire, our sales specialists and engineers are available to work through any space concerns and challenges that your particular application might present.
One final consideration is the ability for the filtered or ductless hood to alarm you when your safety is compromised or could be potentially at risk. Does that feature come standard on the product, or is that an add-on you must remember to buy or ask for at the time of quotation? Your safety is not an option with Mystaire. The EverSafe III microprocessor controller constantly monitors your safety and comes standard on all units. The controller continually samples the air stream and reads to see if excessive humidity, temperature, or gases are present. Both temperature and humidity play a role in the effectiveness of the carbon filter and if too much of either exist, then the controller will provide both audible and visible alarms. If your product from Mystaire has the EverSafe III microprocessor controller, then you can rest assured that your safety is being monitored and audible and visible alarms will sound so you can address any issues and remain safe when using our products.
Don't let the language fool you. Remember that filtered or ductless hoods are the same product by classification. The true difference comes in the company you purchase from and how they approach your safety. Come and let Mystaire work with you to ensure your safety in the laboratory.