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Laminar air flow cabinet

A clinical look at laminar air flow

posted on: April 10th, 2013
Air quality is of paramount importance in the medical field, where even minor levels of contaminants can pose a risk to those with impaired immune systems. This applies as much to the pharmaceutical laboratory as it does to the operating suite; both of which use laminar air flow to maintain sterility and reduce the risk of allergies and infections.

No matter how sterile an operating theatre or laboratory clean room appears to be, the air is contaminated from the moment a human being walks in, even if they are fully gowned up. The source of these microbiological contaminants is most often the personnel, with men carrying more bacteria - including infectious types such as Staphylococcus aureus - than women. These can be shed from the skin at a rate of over 10,000 per minute..

A unidirectional flow of HEPA-filtered air ensures these contaminants are swiftly removed. However, a higher level of sterility is obtained if a laminar flow bench is also used. In surgical areas, limiting the number of people in the room will help minimise air turbulence, which can disrupt the unidirectional flow of air.

The importance of laminar flow to patient health

Whether it is in a clean room maintained under laminar flow conditions, or an actual cabinet, the purpose of HEPA-filtered laminar air flow is to provide and maintain a working environment that is free of air-borne particles.

Surgical areas equipped with this technology have been proven to have a far lower level of environmental contamination, in the form of bacteria and viral particles, than rooms which rely solely on traditional aseptic protocol such as protective clothing and “scrubbing up.” In addition, post-operative infection rates are considerably lower in surgical rooms where laminar flow is employed. There is ample evidence that sepsis is closely linked to environmental contamination.

Sterility in the operating room is vital to protect patients from infectious diseases, and laminar air flow is widely used for this purpose, preventing contamination of instruments and equipment as well as open wounds. However, it has many uses outside the OR.

The laminar flow bench in medicine

The laminar flow hood is an indispensable tool in clinical and surgical environments, helping to maintain sterility during the preparation of drugs for injection, for example. Here is a list of some of the ways in which a vertical or horizontal cabinet may be used:

The assembly of electronic medical equipment. As well as ensuring equipment used on patients is germ-free, a laminar flow bench also protects delicate microelectronic components from particulate contamination, which can cause them to become faulty or fail.


Sterilising of non-metallic instruments. The steam autoclave is fine for scissors and scalpels – not so good for high-tech electronics. The laminar flow hood is the safe, alternative method to ensure high-tech instruments are sterile.


Drug preparation. Patients are routinely dosed with oral or injectable drugs that need to be made up “in house”, rather than bought in as sealed bottles and blister packs. These must be prepared to the highest levels of patient safety, so a laminar flow bench is essential.

We at Contained Air Solutions Ltd (CAS) offer a wide range of laminar air flow solutions for the medical industry.
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Contained Air Solutions Ltd, Unit 4, Greengate, Middleton Junction, Manchester, M24 1RU. Tel +44(0)161 655 8860 Fax: +44(0)161 655 8865 Email: info@containedairsolutions.co.uk