From a basic point of view, both the Laminar Air Flow cabinet and the Biological Safety Cabinets are simply protection compartments but offering different levels of protection. Various aspects of protection offered are dependent on the sample, the environment, and the user as well.
It is important to point out that while the Laminar Air Flow only protects the product in the chamber, the Biological Safety Cabinets protects both the product and the user from bacterial protection. This forms the key difference between the two. To this effect, the Biosafety Cabinets proves to be preferably better and versatile. The two equipment, however, bear other differences based on their usage, functionality and other aspects as explained below:
The Biological Safety Cabinet employs the HEPA filter mechanism in its exhaust system which traps different airborne materials. The mechanism is configured in accordance with the direction of airflow to achieve product protection and other environmental protection ideas. Secondly, the Biosafety Cabinet bears a sash which helps in blowing away the air from the user by use of a grill-work mechanism. This makes it an ideal piece when dealing with potentially infectious agents. This further makes it ideal for performing non-infectious tasks too. Subsequently, the Biological Safety Cabinet recycles about 70% of the air and purifies the air particles by use of the HEPA filter mechanism. In a nutshell, the key purpose of the Biosafety Lab Cabinet is to offer protection to both the user and the environment from bio-hazards and other forms of infectious agents. It further protects research materials from infectious and airborne contaminants by use of HEPA filters.
Laminar Air Flow
It is important to note that the Laminar Air Flow cabinet comes in two major types, the horizontal and the vertical. The different features are thereby variant on the usage.
Generally, the Laminar Air Flow cabinet has an open face and the air is directly blown towards the user via the grill-work. For this reason, it should only be used when dealing with non-infectious materials. This further makes it not ideal when working with biohazards.
For the Horizontal Laminar Air Flow equipment, the clean-air bench mostly used when performing cell cultures bears a high chance of exposing users to infectious material such as aerosols. The vertical Laminar Air Flow equipment subsequently blows air out which may cause exposure to allergenic materials.
Further, the air flow mechanism of the Laminar Air Flow is disturbed by even the slightest act of inserting or withdrawing of the hand into the clean bench work-space. This obstruction causes turbulence in the flow of air often resulting in dirty air entering from outside.
Some Laminar Air Flows, however, are specifically designed to minimize the entrance of dirty air by use of slots along the edges of the workspace. Ideally, the Laminar Air Flow cabinet offers basic specimen protection from microorganisms and further provides clean-air working space to necessitate biological safety.
Conclusively, the major differences between the two pieces of the two laboratory equipment are purely dependent on the specific needs as well as the different levels of protection needed.