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Ventilation of laboratories

ventilation of laboratories

Ventilation in the laboratory - requirements

Laboratory ventilation is necessary to ensure the safety and comfort of employees and good air quality during product testing. Depending on how they are used, laboratory rooms are divided into several groups, which include:

  • chemical,
  • biological,
  • medical,
  • industrial,
  • microbiological laboratories, etc.

Depending on the research technology and processes carried out in laboratories, strict environmental parameters must be maintained in rooms. These parameters include temperature, pressure, and humidity. The detailed analysis of such rooms and tests carried out by experts make it possible to identify other important issues that affect user comfort and safety while maintaining the above crucial parameters

The most important issues include in particular: increased air change rate compared to, for example, an office room, for which 4 air changes are typically assumed. For laboratory rooms, the air change rate is generally 10 times per hour. For emergency ventilation in the laboratory room, the air change rate may reach 20 air changes per hour or more. The air may also contain volatile compounds that are harmful to human health.

It should be remembered that the aforementioned factors apply only to comfort ventilation. There are also other elements in the laboratory room such as:

  • fume cupboards,
  • local extraction fans,
  • arm extraction fans,
  • extraction fans above process equipment,
  • laminar flow cabinets,
  • reagent cabinets, cabinets for chemicals, etc.

These require independent fume hoods, which can operate continuously or temporarily depending on the specific operation of the workstation from which air is extracted. These devices are an integral part of any laboratory – any operations involving flammable, toxic, or caustic gases or volatile liquids must be performed under a fume hood.

ventilation laboratory

Chemically resistant ventilation ductwork made of PVC in a laboratory.

Laboratory ventilation ensures the required air quality and air changes adapted to laboratory type. The microbiological control of the laboratory environment must also be performed to avoid the colonisation of microorganisms and chemical compounds on ventilation systems. This involves preventing the contamination of the tested product at the production stage.

Bacteria and liberated chemicals can permanently exist in:

  • system cracks and microcracks, in which moisture accumulates.
  • welded joints that were not evened out well enough.
  • ventilation seals
  • ventilation system parts where condensation often occurs.

The most common laboratory air contaminants include:

  • Bacterial microorganisms (bacteria, fungi)
  • Bacterial endotoxins,
  • Dust allergens,
  • Harmful chemicals i.e. acids, bases.
  • Airborne and dust-borne bioaerosols settling on exterior surfaces of ventilation systems.

There are no widely accepted criteria for assessing biological air contamination in rooms other than special-purpose rooms. Literature data may be used.

Microbiological agent

Acceptable concentration CFU/m3

In working rooms contaminated
with organic dust

In residential and public rooms
and ambient air


respirable totalrespirable 
Mesophilic bacteria 100 000 50 000 5000 2 500
Gram-negative bacteria 20 000 10 000 200 100
Thermophilic actinomycetes 20 000 10 000 200 100
Fungi 50 000 25 000 5 000 2 500
Risk group 3 and 4 agents1) 0 0 0 0
1) According to the Order of the Minister of Health [2005]: factors of the Risk Group 3- microorganisms that can cause serious human diseases, but effective treatment and preventative measures are available; factors of the Risk Group 4 - microorganisms that cause serious human diseases and effective treatment and preventative measures are not available.

Tabel 1. Suggested airborne microbial counts prepared by the Team of Experts in Biological Factors (ZECB) from the Interdepartmental Commission for Maximum Admissible Concentrations and Intensities for Agents Harmful to Health in the Working Environment - 
the values applicable in Poland

Ventilation system vs material degradation

Contaminants in laboratory rooms mentioned above have a negative impact on the material used to make the room ventilation system.

plastic ducting
To eliminate the degradation of the ventilation system material, it is recommended to install chemically-resistant ventilation systems made of plastic whose resistance to toxic chemicals extends the life of the system and prevents corrosion of the material.

The use of a chemically-resistant system with a number of products whose main job is to ensure the right conditions of the ventilation system in laboratory rooms makes it possible not only to maintain room parameters but also to limit material wear and tear.

Check ventilation systems for laboratories >>>


Looking for more information about ventilation systems for industrial purposes? Read our expert articles:

  1. How-to: Welding plastic ventilation ductwork
  2. 8 Common Dust Extraction System Mistakes
  3. Ventilation systems for swimming pools
  4. Modular Dust Extraction Ducting
  5. Plastics in ventilation