Biosafety Cabinet Vs Other Lab Hoods, What’s The Difference?
Lab Hood Types
Biological safety cabinets, laminar flow hoods, clean hoods, and culture hoods as terms are often used interchangeably but in reality, their features and their end-use make them quite different.
What makes a BSC different than other similarly shaped instruments. The differences boil down to what in the end they’re protecting.
Biosafety Cabinet Classification
To start, a Biosafety Cabinet is built to protect the user, the environment, and the product. These lab hoods require the use of HEPA or ULPA filtration, flow vertically, and only exhaust out of the building if decontaminated first. A BSC comes in three classes depending on the level of biohazard they’re designed for such as infectious microorganisms and other hazardous particulates. Typically you find these used in labs focusing on cell culture, life sciences, and microbiology
Chemical Fume Hood
Chemical hoods on the other hand are built for well, chemicals, not biological agents. These lab hoods are still built to protect the users but not the product. HEPA filtration is optional, moving away from the users either vertically or horizontally, and air leaves the building through ductwork. You can usually find a Fume Hood in a laboratory, educational labs, as well as forensics and manufacturing.
Laminar Flow Hood Vs Biosafety Cabinet
Laminar Flow Hood or a clean bench doesn’t protect the user at all, these lab hoods are used to protect the product from the user. Air comes from the top, pushes down and toward the user, preventing contaminated air from entering the cabinet. These could be used when working with semiconductor wafers or tissue cultures or other sensitive material. As air could be potentially contaminated as it flows towards the user, these shouldn’t be used with infectious materials, toxins, volatile chemicals, or materials that may cause hypersensitivity to the worker such as animal dander.
Biosafety Cabinet Vs Isolator
An Aseptic Containment Isolators (CAI) or laminar flow glovebox isolator provide a complete barrier of protection between the material being worked with and the operator. These hoods are purposed for sterile drug compounding and are constructed with a series of HEPA filters, a positive pressure-controlled environment for use with nonhazardous materials, or negative pressure for working with hazardous items. The Fully enclosed cabinet allows for work with high-level toxic drugs, however does not handle heat or smoke very well.
Class III Biosafety Cabinet
A Class III Biosafety cabinet also are gas-tight and feature total enclosures and negative pressure, however, these can be ductless or ducted. When set up with ductwork, the BSC can also double as a fume hood to support microbiology processes.
Biosafety Cabinet Vs PCR Hood
A PCR Laboratory hood is like a laminar clean bench, where the filtered air flows down and toward the user. Sometimes these lab hoods are circulation free as in the case of a dead air box. However, what sets these apart is the use of UV sterilization you might see in a biosafety cabinet. The germicidal lamp facilitates sterilization between amplifications to prevent cross-contamination between samples for the most sensitive DNA and RNA segment detection.
To the uninitiated, the enclosure they see in a lab may recede into the background as just safety equipment. But each kind is highly specific and the features should be thought through before a purchase is made. When outfitting your lab it’s important to consider the end-use, ductwork access, and degree of protection needed.
Our team has decades of experience working with lab hoods, biosafety cabinets, glove boxes, PCR hoods, and balance enclosures of all makes and brands. All enclosures that come through our doors are rigorously inspected, decontaminated and filters checked and replaced. If you have questions, we have answers. Our inventory also changes daily so if you don’t see something that meets your needs let us know, we may be able to source it for you.