Snorkels, Ventilation and Lab Safety

Snorkels don’t just turn up at the beach. They also have an important, and sometimes controversial use in lab safety. These local exhaust extractors can be useful for removing heat, but snorkels are, by design, an open system. This makes them less than ideal for removing harmful vapors from your lab. Here is some of the controversy surrounding snorkels, as well as an effective use when attached to dedicated lab furniture, like our IonBenches.

Why Are Snorkels Controversial?

As noted, snorkels operate as an open system and are therefore tough to test for actual effectiveness. While they may draw a certain cubic feet per second, that figure is dependent on the air pressure in the room and can be influenced by other devices that may be operating in the lab.

If you seek to attach a snorkel to a fume hood, you must have one designed for that purpose—this might be an expensive replacement for minimal gain. Different velocities are needed to evacuate different materials. For these reasons and more, it’s always best to enclose the entire procedure in a fume hood to allow for safe and effective ventilation and preserve lab safety.

Why Are Snorkels a Lab Safety Issue?

Snorkels are loud. A typical snorkel can add 60 dBA or more to the noise level in your lab—especially since staff must work very close to the snorkel in order for it to be effective. We’ve discussed in prior posts the lab safety issues that arise in a noisy lab.

We’ve also heard that the noise is sometimes loud enough that staff turn off the snorkels. This creates a larger problem if HVAC controls for the room have been set on the presumption that multiple snorkels are in use. When you turn off those snorkels, the room can shift from negative to positive pressure, creating an environmental lab safety issue.

Why Snorkels Can Work When Properly Attached to Dedicated Lab Furniture

Snorkels are not ideal for many types of lab work, but they can be effective for venting hot air. Your mass spec is far too big to fit under a fume hood, but it does generate a lot of heat from within the bench itself. This is why we have designed two different heat ventilation features for our dedicated lab furniture to cool it with safety in mind.

The first ventilation feature for our IonBench MS comes standard with every piece of dedicated lab furniture designed for mass specs. It consists of four to six fans built into the back of the bench to safely ventilate heat from the roughing pumps. The second ventilation feature can easily connect to a well-designed snorkel. Our Heat Removal Module allows for a direct connection to a snorkel or to your building’s main heat exhaust system.

Would you like to learn more about how our dedicated lab furniture can support lab safety by efficiently evacuating excess heat and odors? Contact Tim Hawkins today via email or at 1-888-669-1233.