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Vertical Laminar Flow Hoods vs. Biological Safety Cabinets

Laminar Flow Hoods vs Biological Safety Cabinets

Laminar flow cabinets are used in a wide array of applications in the pharmaceutical, medical, manufacturing, and scientific research fields. Laminar flow enclosures can be configured to provide vertical or horizontal airflow, depending on application needs. Each configuration is best suited to specific applications and provides a host of benefits.

  • Horizontal laminar flow hoods are best for applications that require minimal turbulence on the work surface, making them ideal for use with primarily small utensils and equipment that will not cause airflow disturbance. Applications that require the utmost in contamination control should use horizontal flow because hands and gloves are positioned downstream of the sample during normal operation.
  • Vertical laminar flow hoods are best for applications that require the use of large equipment on the work surface as the workspace is taller and larger with less turbulence caused by the vertical airflow. Vertical laminar flow hoods are often favored for many applications due to their resemblance of cleanroom setups. The airflow proceeds in a downward motion which, when coupled with the benefit of gravity, can assist in pushing particles down and away from the work surface and operators.

Biological Safety vs. Work Product Protection

Biological safety cabinets are used to prevent contamination of the general environment and operators using the equipment. Biological safety cabinets are divided into three classes: Class I, Class II, and Class III.

  • Class I and II cabinets separate the laboratory researcher from the work area with a protective air barrier across the work opening. They used HEPA-filtration to maintain a clean work area to protect the work surface from room contamination.
  • Class III cabinets, often called glove boxes, have a physical barrier between the operator and the work area, employing sealed, arm-length gloves attached to the work opening.

Biological safety cabinet create a unidirectional laminar flow across the work surface following parallel patterns. But, laminar flow cabinets are not biological safety cabinets. Laminar flow cabinets are configured to protect the work on the work surface. They do not protect the operator as the airflow pushes aerosols or particulates from the work surface toward the operator.

Air Science offers solutions for both. Where biological safety is required, the Purair BIO offers a Class II, Type A2 NSF certification for personnel, work surface and environmental protection from airborne particulates and biologicals. This cabinet maintains a negative pressure inside the cabinet during operation to prevent contaminants from escaping the work area. The Purair BIO is ideal for life science researchers, various biological protocols, and for sterile product preparation in a number of industries.

Incoming air is captured at the opening and passed through a HEPA filter. The air flows down to the work surface in a laminar flow pattern where it splits and re-enters the plenum, Here, 70% of the air is recirculated and 30% is passed through another HEPA filter to be exhausted to the room.


Laminar flow cabinets are designed to protect the product or process on the work surface from particulates that are trapped in a HEPA filter.

  • Available in vertical or horizontal airflow configurations.
  • Can be used with a HEPA or ULPA filter
  • Protects the work inside.
  • For more information visit

Biological safety cabinets offer added layers of protection for both the product/process on the work surface, the user and the environment.

  • Available in vertical airflow configuration only.
  • Must comply with NSF 49 Class II, Type A2 performance criteria for inflow, downflow, exhaust and cross-contamination protection.
  • For more information visit

For assistance in choosing the right product for your application, talk with a technical sales specialist at Air Science or request a quotation.


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