This is an interesting question. We have had ventilation problems in our chemistry buildings, both in an older teaching lab building that was renovated, and in a new research building. In both cases, the changes in lab ventilation to meet the challenges of the environment should have been readily accomplished as these were part of the engineering, but failed in practice. In our new chemistry research building, we found labs that were positive to student offices and fume hoods that shut down when the exhaust fans rotated off and on, and some labs with 30 ACH.
While we were complaining about the safety ramifications of the ventilation programming failures, Facilities was eager to lower energy costs. Therefore, we were asked to partner with them to identify which labs could have night time setbacks and also which labs might be ok with lower ACH. We have done this, and now they are reprogramming for these lab ventilation needs. However, our experience with this kind of programming (and the potential for failures) would lead me to question the ability of our engineers to effect ventilation program changes in any labs week by week to match the actual risk assessment for that week, unless there were very few labs and a very knowledgeable programmer was in charge, and there were in place methods for immediately determining the status of the lab ventilation post-programming.
Laboratory Safety Officer
Florida State University
From: DCHAS-L Discussion List [mailto:dchas-l**At_Symbol_Here**med.cornell.edu] On Behalf Of Stuart, Ralph
Sent: Thursday, June 16, 2016 10:40 AM
Subject: [DCHAS-L] Managing teaching lab ventilation
I am interested in hearing how schools are balancing the connected issues of safety and cost of laboratory ventilation in teaching laboratories.
My experience with optimization of general lab ventilation in research settings is that it can be pretty straight forward because the chemical processes are reasonably stable and can be expected to remain consistent in terms of the chemicals used, where they are used, etc. for months, if not years at a time. However, in the teaching lab setting, the chemicals used tend to change dramatically from week to week and a lab with no chemicals one week may host 20 set ups that involve the use of ether or beta mercaptoethanol the next week.
In those situations, is lab ventilation reduced in the less chemically-intense weeks and/or increased during odoriferous weeks? If so, who manages these changes? Teaching faculty, building staff, central facilities staff, others?
Thanks for any help in working through these questions.
Ralph Stuart, CIH, CCHO
Chemical Hygiene Officer
Keene State College
Previous post | Top of Page | Next post