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Laboratory Containment & Ventilation Commissioning: A Best Practices Guide

Stan Lengerich, Eli Lilly and Company

Forming a commissioning plan has become more difficult in an environment of ever increasing toxicity of materials handled and wider choices of testing methods. This paper will discuss the technology of performance testing in the context of these challenges.

  • Types of testing appropriate for various items of laboratory equipment:
    • Fume hoods
    • Biological safety cabinets
    • Ventilated balance enclosures
    • Local exhaust ventilation
    • Custom ventilated enclosures
  • A review of the latest thinking on containment tests will be discussed and illustrated:
    • Face velocity
    • Smoke: high and low volume
    • Pressure/leak
    • Tracer gas
    • Specific air monitoring
  • Further topics include the following:
    • Post-performance testing: remediation before startup.
    • Forming the commissioning plan: assignment of roles and responsibilities
    • Working along a timeline.
    • Getting the right testing contractor or AE firm: what questions to ask.
    • What can go wrong: How to turn a good fume hood into a hazard.
    • The future of containment testing: comparing and developing standards.


Lessons learned in ventilation containment testing:

  • Face velocity, the old standby in performance testing is a poor predictor of actual containment.
  • A commissioning protocol rarely covers the commissioning effort in sufficient detail.
  • Your commissioning plan is as good as your testing contractor.
  • Inadequate commissioning and remediation can become very expensive.
  • Get a vendor who is interested in your needs and will be there when something goes wrong.

Labs21 Connection:

This presentation acknowledges and supports the principles of Labs21 in worker safety assurance, progressive ideas in design, testing, and maintenance, in conserving energy, and in safeguarding the environment.


Stan Lengerich is an Associate Engineering Consultant with the Eli Lilly and Company Engineering Technology Center. He brings more than 20 years experience working in and supporting research, development, and manufacturing operations in the chemical and pharmaceutical industries, and in academia. He received his master's degree in Industrial Health from the University of Michigan, and he is a Certified Industrial Hygienist. His primary focus at Lilly is on laboratory containment with a special emphasis on lab ventilation systems. Stan is a member of the ASHRAE 110 committee, which is rewriting the standard for performance testing of fume hoods. He also is the Lead Developer for the Labs21 "Best Practice Guideline" for lab ventilation commissioning.


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