Key Insights into Biological Safety Cabinets

insights from industrySeth DePenningMarketing ManagerNuAire, Inc.

In this interview, industry expert Seth DePenning provides insights into the critical role of Biological Safety Cabinets (BSCs) and highlights the importance of HEPA filters.

What is a Biological Safety Cabinet (BSC), and how are these devices used?

 ​​​​A biological safety cabinet is a piece of equipment that contains hazardous airborne particulate to protect personnel and their surroundings while they perform a process. These are used in many settings where biomedical personnel need a contained space at which to work, such as biological research labs and drug compounding pharmacies.

What are HEPA filters, and how are they used in BSCs?

HEPA filters are what strain most of the particulates out of the air that a biosafety cabinet exhausts, and in the case of Class II BSCs, out of the air that flows down into the interior where the work is done.

Why is it necessary to replace the HEPA filters in Biosafety Cabinets?

Biosafety cabinets use a motor to move air in various ways for specific purposes. In the case of a Class II BSC, this includes not only creating inflow at the front of the cabinet to keep particulate from flowing out towards the user and the surrounding room, but also pushing air through the supply HEPA filter so it will be clean for the work zone and pushing air past the exhaust HEPA filter so it is clean exiting the BSC.

Over time, the HEPA filters become more and more filled with particulate and make it harder for the motor to push enough air through to create these airflows. Eventually, the HEPA filters become so saturated they must be replaced with clean ones that the motor can force enough air through. The need for filter changes will probably be determined by a certifier during cabinet certification or perhaps another service call.

How does the use of advanced motor technology in NuAire's BSCs extend the lifespan of HEPA filters?

Each NuAire biosafety cabinet uses a motor with enough power available that it can be turned up over the long term to keep pushing air past the HEPA filters despite them becoming more and more saturated. This means the cabinet should only require HEPA filter changes very infrequently, thus minimizing the accumulated cost of these expensive procedures over its lifetime.

What advice would you give to customers to ensure they are making a cost-effective investment in a BSC?

When customers buy biosafety cabinets, it is easy to choose based on the upfront cost. However, they should also consider how easily the cabinet’s motor or motors will be overwhelmed by the saturation of the unit’s HEPA filters and therefore require costly filter replacement. Purchase price and service costs should both be considered when predicting what the true total cost of ownership will be over the long term.

About Seth DePenning 

Seth De Penning is the Marketing Manager at NuAire,Inc., a leading manufacturer of biosafety cabinets, and has a decade of experience working in commercial roles in the biosafety cabinet industry.

He has spoken on the topic of biosafety cabinets to audiences in both Latin America and Asia and holds three professional certifications from the International Federation of Biosafety Associations (IFBA).

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