Fume Extraction Equipment for Industrial Facilities
Fume extractors are important because they help protect the health of employees. Many industries use these extractors to eliminate harmful particles from jobs such as welding, soldering, and other applications where noxious smoke is produced.
How does fume extraction work? Fume extractors use specialized filters to remove particles from the air and reduce the harmful effects. Hence, fume extractors are a necessity for certain types of jobs and industries.
Fume extractors come in a variety of types that can be either welding systems, fixed systems, source capture, and portable.
What is a fume extractor?
Many industrial processes create harmful fumes. These fumes are present in a variety of forms including sanding, spraying, powder filling, grinding, welding and chemical applications.
These harmful fumes should be filtered in the work environment. A fume extractor is a system that uses a high powered fan to clean the air of these harmful particles. Various fume extractors use different types of filters including carbon and HEPA (high-efficiency particulate air).
Most fume extractors recirculate the air eliminating the need for costly replacement air. Therefore, fume extractors are more efficient, have easy access to filters, use less space than other options.
Why do you need fume extraction? What are the dangers of fumes?
Why do you need fume extraction in your workplace? As we noted above, fume extractors remove harmful fumes or particles. But, what are those fumes that need to be removed? Are they present in your workplace?
Before we talk about the actual fumes, we should discuss worker safety and air quality.
Indoor air quality is very important to OSHA. On their website, they explain,
“The quality of indoor air inside offices, schools, and other workplaces is important not only for workers’ comfort but also for their health. Poor indoor air quality (IAQ) has been tied to symptoms like headaches, fatigue, trouble concentrating, and irritation of the eyes, nose, throat and lungs.”
But it isn’t just annoying symptoms as poor air quality can lead to even greater health problems.
“Also, some specific diseases have been linked to specific air contaminants or indoor environments, like asthma with damp indoor environments. In addition, some exposures, such as asbestos and radon, do not cause immediate symptoms but can lead to cancer after many years.”
The Environmental Protection Agency also lists indoor air pollution as a top five environmental hazard.
Your workers’ health is a very important part of your indoor air quality and can prevent serious health problems.
Therefore, there is a significant need for cleaner, safer air quality. Fume extractors can help keep your workers healthy.
What are some of the fumes that might be present in your workplace?
Manufacturers that use welding, soldering, smelting, chemical processing, or other industrial processes are usually workplaces that produce airborne toxins.
Fabrication shops, repair shops, construction facilities, and large-scale cosmetology salons are other workspaces that may require fume extraction systems.
Welding is one category where fume extraction must be set up correctly. OSHA has strict guidelines on the management of welding fumes, specifically hexavalent chromium (CrVI or Cr6+). When inhaled, hexavalent chromium can cause lung cancer and respiratory infection.
Welders can become exposed to high levels of manganese because of its use to strengthen the metal. This toxin can target the central nervous and respiratory systems. Prolonged exposure can lead to a number of issues including the larynx, urinary tract, and lung problems. Exposure can also lead to various types of cancer.
Workers exposed to fumes from lead oxide, formaldehyde, or hydrochloric acid can also experience severe health problems. Manufacturers of building materials, batteries, paint, glass, or any facility where metals are melted or molded may fit this criteria.
Inhalations of toxic fumes can lead to various irritations such as headaches and abdominal cramps and long-term problems like asthma.
Helping your workers have a safe place to work and a healthy life is the most important reason to invest in fume extraction.
Types of Fume Extraction Filters
Fume extraction filters can be made from different materials, and are rated by the size of particles they are filtering, and the efficiency of the particle extraction.
Some materials that smoke extraction filters are constructed of can include:
- Cellulose or cellulose blend. Disposable filters that are not well-suited for filtering welding fumes.
- Non-woven, spun-bound polyester. Reusable filters that usually fall sort of target particle filtration efficiency for welding fume extraction.
- Meltblown, non-woven composites. Uses microfibers with a tight weave to trap more particles between base filter media and microfiber weave.
- Surface loading filters. Unlike the other filters mentioned, these filters capture particles on the surface, rather than using depth-loading as particulate passes through the filter media.
- Carbon filters. Sometimes used in conjunction with HEPA filters. Pollutant molecules adhere to the surface of the carbon layer through a process known as adsorption.
HEPA filters are a specific type of filter that capture 99.97% of particles that are .03 microns in size. These are often used in conjunction with activated carbon filters.
Note: A micron is the same as a micrometer. The symbol for a micron is μm.
Here are some answers to common questions about HEPA filters.
What does HEPA stand for?
HEPA stands for High-Efficiency Particulate Arrestance or High-Efficiency Particulate Air. This filter removes over 99.997% of contaminants that are .03 microns in width. This means that most mold, dust mites, bacteria, and pollen are filtered out.
Though HEPA standards were not set until 1983, HEPA filters were first used in 1940 as part of the Manhattan Project. The goal was to use the filters to help prevent the spread of radioactive particles.
HEPA stands for high-efficiency particulate air and this type of filter is intended to remove contaminants that are 0.3 microns in size.
For an idea of how small that is, a micron is one-millionth of a meter (1/1000000). A human red blood cell is about five microns across. Here’s the micron diameter of some common items.
- Pollen: 10-1000 microns
- Dust Mites: 100-300 microns
- Human Hair: 17-181 microns
- Fine Sand: 65 microns
- Bacteria: 1-10 microns
- Copier Toner: 0.5-15 microns
- Tobacco Smoke: 0.01-4 microns
- Viruses: 0.005-0.3 microns
As you can see, HEPA filters operate at the microscopic level, which is why they are necessary for fume and smoke filtration.
How do HEPA filters work?
HEPA filters are usually constructed from borosilicate glass or plastic arranged in a mat of randomly placed fibers. Borosilicate glass is different from normal glass in that it contains boron trioxide, giving it a low coefficient of thermal expansion. In plain terms, this means it will not crack under extreme temperatures.
Particles are trapped by four different means: impact, interception, diffusion, and electrostatic attraction.
Impact. The largest particles run into the fibers and fall. These are subsequently trapped in the pleated fibers.
Interception. Medium sized particles pass through the mat of fibers and are trapped when they pass close to the microfibers.
Diffusion. The tiniest particles are slowed down by a physics phenomenon known as Brownian motion. This is when particles in the air are slowed as they are bombarded by other molecules in the air. These particles are then trapped in the fibers by interception.
Electrostatic Attraction. This is when two particle have an opposite charge (negative and positive) and there is mutual attraction. In electrostatic attraction, the particulate matter in the fumes is attracted to the fibers, becoming trapped in the filter media.
What is the MERV Rating?
Air filters are graded using the MERV rating (Minimum Efficiency Reporting Value). This is a standard created by the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers. The MERV rating for most filters goes on a scale from 1 to 16, though the scale itself goes to 20. The higher the number, the smaller the particles the filter will remove.
What are ASHRAE filters and ULPA filters?
An ASHRAE Filter will remove particles 0.5 microns in diameter with up to 95% efficiency. This is not equivalent to HEPA, but it is used for similar purposes. This is the lowest quality that meets standards set by the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating, and Air Conditioning Experts for particulate filtration.
ULPA Filters remove particles 0.12 microns in size with 99.9995% efficiency. These filter do not remove gases or odors. ULPA filters are most commonly used in cleanrooms for electronics or pharmaceutical.
How the Welded Material Affects Filter Choice
The proper welding fume extraction filter system depends greatly on metals being welded and the type of welding being done.
According to The document Health and Safety in Welding and Allied Processes According to DIN EN ISO 15012-1:2005, there are three welding fume classes.
- Class W1. The filtration efficiency in the W1 class must be at least 95 percent or greater. Filters in this class are suitable for unalloyed or low-alloyed steel, meaning the steel has a very low nickel and chromium content.
- Class W2. Filtration efficiency in the W2 class must be greater than 98 percent. The steel alloys being welded must have nickel and chromium content of no more than 30%.
- Class W3. For the W3 class, filtration efficiency must be 99 percent or greater. These filters must be used when welding high-alloy steel with more than 30 percent nickel and chromium content.
Fume Extraction Filter Setup
Many fume extractors have a few layers of filtration. Here are the components you are most likely to encounter.
Spark arrestor or spark trap. This is an aluminum or steel mesh that removes larger particulates, and keeps them away from the first layer of non-woven filtration.
Pre-filter. If this layer is in place, it may be another filter to take out regular-sized particles.
Main filter. Meant to capture the majority of the particulate. In many cases, this will be a HEPA filter, that removes 99.97% of particles from fumes.
Post-filter. Sometimes this is a carbon filter used in conjunction with a HEPA filter. The post -filter may capture ions and molecules that get through the 99.97% filtration from the HEPA filter.
Industries where fume extraction is necessary
Industries that need fume extraction solutions include:
- Laser cutting, welding, or engraving
- Nail Salons
- Pharmaceutical labs
Fume extraction is beneficial for a number of jobs including:
- Chemical Applications
- Powder filling
- Solvent use or production
Particulate created during these processes are harmful and cause a variety of different health-related problems for workers. The fume extractors help eliminate harmful fumes and particles.
Fume Extraction for Welding
There are a number of times where welding fume extraction is required. These practices include:
- Gas metal arc welding
- Gas tungsten arc welding
- Electroslag welding
- Flux-cored arc welding
- Submerged arc welding
- Oxyacetylene welding
- Resistance welding
- Spot welding and seam welding
Types of Fume Extractors
The types of fume extractors can be categorized in three different ways: Welding Systems, Fixed Systems, and Source Capture.
Welding System Fume Extractors
Welding Systems include fume extractors for the welding industry. These can include both a fixed and a moveable welding fume extractor.
“Welding fumes contain a variety of metals, including aluminum, arsenic, beryllium, lead and manganese. Argon, nitrogen, carbon dioxide, carbon monoxide and hydrogen fluoride gases often are produced during welding.”
Using a fume extraction system helps mitigate adverse health effects from the carcinogenic elements in the welding fumes.
“Local extraction is by far the most effective method: The hazardous substances are captured right at the source – before they reach the welders breathing zone. This is the only guarantee of sufficient protection and to provide clean breathing air at workplaces.”
Fixed Fume Extraction Systems
Fixed fume extractors are the most expensive. They are designed to help extract harmful particles from a large work space. Therefore, the system is more complex and require engineering to install the hoods, filters, and ductwork needed to extract the hazardous fumes.
Source Capture Fume Extraction
Source capture systems capture the harmful particles at their source. This type of fume extractor is often mobile, which allows you to move the fume extractor near the location of the fume source. An example is the Portable Fume Extractor.
Source capture fume extractors can include:
- Portable fume extractors
- Benchtop extractors
- Enclosed mounted
- Wall mounted
- Stand mounted extractors
The type of fume extractor needed will depend on the type of job and/or application that is being completed.
Types of Source Capture
- Overhead Hoods
- Fume Guns
- Fume Arms
- Backdraft/Sidedraft Intake Plenum
- Downdraft Tables
Decades of Experience in Fume Extraction Design and Installation
If you need professional consultation for fume extraction systems in your warehouse, manufacturing plant or industrial facility, the IAF team can help you.