Air quality in the laboratories

Air is unseen, it is difficult to believe the contaminants present in the air. It can be determined only through symptoms in our health. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) evaluates that indoor air pollution is two to five times more than outdoor air pollution. 

It is vital to understand your indoor air quality. Indoor Air quality defines the purity of the air in your workspace environments like schools, classrooms, restaurants, hospitals, or laboratories. Many factors reduce the quality of the indoor air in your environment. 

It is important to analyze the factors that affect your indoor environment’s air quality and get rid of them. Some of the common factors due to which the indoor air quality gets affected are,

  • Reduced ventilation, heating, or air conditioning.
  • Geographical location near the busy road in the urban areas.
  • Nearby or in-house constructions materials release radon.
  • Moisture and dampness.
  • Common pollutants such as particulates, dust from wind, pollens, household activities, and more.
  • Smoke from the kitchen or tobacco smokers from the outdoor.
  • Airborne microorganisms (bacteria, viruses, or other pathogens). 

When it comes to the laboratory, air quality is the vital factor to be concerned more as it has more impact on the experimental results. As the scientists in the chemical laboratory are more exposed to the chemical it is important to take care of their health. 

Environmental factors are concerned more in the laboratories to get accurate results. Each and every particle, chemicals released from the different materials, even cleaning products are to be taken care of in the laboratory.

National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) 45 is the legal standard on fire protection for laboratories. NFPA-45 specifies ventilation criteria to prevent the circulation of flammable gases, vapors, particulates, or other harmful contaminants in the laboratory environment. 

The lab environment should be properly ventilated such that outdoor air is used effectively and prevent the circulation of harmful contaminants indoors.

Symptoms Of Poor Indoor Air Quality

There are different types of contaminants in the air, the symptoms of air contaminants vary with the type of contaminants. The contaminants in the air cannot be seen, the biggest clue that contaminants present in the air are symptoms of sneezing, a sudden feeling of blocked nose, headache, fatigue, dry throat, irritation of the eyes. 

The major element of indoor air quality is water vapor or excessive moisture. When the air has more moisture it leads to the growth of airborne bacteria, fungus, or mold in your environment this leads to serious health issues such as allergic symptoms like sneezing, coughing, blocked nose, wheezing, asthma, breathing troubles, sinus congestion, and more. 

Laboratories working environment where different chemicals or instruments or bioscience labs should be free from such contaminants of particles, chemical evaporates, moisture, microorganisms or growth of molds. The symptoms should be keenly analyzed to keep your lab environment free from contaminants.

Causes of Laboratory contaminants

In laboratories, chemical evaporates, or other gases or vapors in the environment causes air quality issues. In the case of chemical laboratories, harmful chemicals, acids, toxins, flammables, or other experimental byproducts are affecting the air quality. 

In some cases, if the experimental procedures require high accurate results then it is vital to maintain high air quality to get better outcomes. 

Laboratory buildings should have proper ventilation for the good circulation of air. Poor ventilation is the major source of air quality issues. 

Particulates from the outdoor air, drywall dust, silica from the wind, wood dust, or other particulates that result from experiments contribute to indoor air quality issues. Potential sources of contaminants in laboratory samples are,

Sample environment – The airborne contaminants and environmental changes such as humidity, temperature, or exposure to light may affect the accuracy of the experimental results.  It is vital to maintain the recommended environmental conditions when the experimental samples are exposed to the air. 

Laboratory containers – It is important to keep the samples stored in a compatible inert container to reduce the leaching from containers.

Contaminants from other samples – Contaminants from other samples can result from damaged containers, untidiness in the workbenches, weighing balance scale.

Contamination from analysts – It is important for the laboratory analysts to follow the recommended guidelines such as wearing disposal  gloves, head covers, masks, and more while performing experiments with the samples

Visitors Entry- Visitors should enter the laboratory with protective clothing and laboratory footwear as there is a possibility for dust particulates to enter with the visitors.

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Preventing Laboratory Contaminants

It is vital to practice the aseptic techniques to maintain a safe lab environment and purity of cell cultures. It is recommended to follow the basic laboratory procedures to reduce the risk of microorganisms into mammalian cell cultures. 

Basic laboratory procedures include wearing clean lab coats, washing hands with purified water, keeping the lab environment clean.

Let’s discuss a few other methods to follow to prevent contaminants in the laboratory environment including good lab design, culturing procedures, and cleaning methods.

Good lab design

The Lab should have a dedicated area to perform different experiments. Cell culture is to be performed in a separate place that is free from other high-traffic lab areas. Only the analyst should have direct access to the cell culture area. 

It is vital to set up lab water purifiers and air purification systems to prevent the contaminants from the air and water affect the experimental results. It is important to place the water and air purifiers carefully such that it is away from the work station. 

The water splashed from the tap can be the source of microbial contamination and HVAC units directly to the incubators or work station have chances to blow airborne contaminants into the workspace. The best laboratory layout helps to keep the lab environment clean and free from contaminants.

Culturing Procedures

It is the best practice to follow the procedures from the beginning of the cell culture to the genomic analysis to understand the cause of the disease. It is important to concentrate to avoid cross-contamination of the cell during culturing process. 

Cross-contamination of the cell culture may result in erroneous data and can be avoided by working with one cell at a time. After every culture session, the working area, and biological safety cabinets are to be cleaned effectively and disinfected such that it prevents cross-contamination. Frequent testing is recommended.

A clean and well-organized lab environment helps when there are multiple lab assistants with different experience levels are handling the lab equipment. It is vital to employ good pipetting practices to enhance accuracy and safety. 

The pipette tips are to be carefully handled by avoiding touching the surfaces with pipette tips. If the pipette tip accidentally touches the media surfaces then it should be discarded. A secure pipetting system is required for the best outcomes. For consistent performance in the lab use high-quality consumables, culture media, and reagents.

Cleaning Methods

It is best to use an air purification system to remove the airborne contaminants in the lab environment that interferes in your experiments. Implement standard procedures for proper maintenance, cleaning, and disinfecting of the equipment. Handle the lab equipment carefully to minimize the possibility of contaminants that disturbing the culturing process. 

Air Quality Monitoring

Indoor air quality might be a great challenge in the laboratories. Providing good ventilation with windows and doors opened might be a problem since the outdoor air brings dust, pollens, molds from the air. 

Rather than opening doors and windows, it is best to have a ventilation system or air cleaners in the laboratories to have high air quality. Air quality is to be monitored regularly to ensure that your research or experimental results do not get affected by the air contaminants. 

Air quality in the laboratory is monitored for the pollution levels based on the national system called the Air Quality Index (AQI). Several national consensus standards are established to recommend the importance of indoor air quality


Maintaining high air quality is a must in the laboratory to get accurate and reliable outcomes. AerMax 500- air cleaner is the best air purifier with true shield HEPA filters that remove 99.97% of particulates of size 0.1 microns. 

These filters deactivate microbial organisms such as bacteria, viruses, or other pathogens. Harmful gases or chemicals are frequent byproducts of experimental research in chemical laboratories. It is important to get rid of those airborne harmful contaminants from the laboratory environment. 

Best air purifiers with high-quality activated carbon remove these gases, odor, harmful chemicals from the laboratory environment. Best practices in the lab environment help prevent contaminants from the laboratory environment.

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