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Airflow Visualization Test (Smoke Test)

Performing an air visualization (smoke) test at both static and dynamic conditions is an important part of qualifying the airflow patterns and containment capability of a Biological Safety Cabinet (BSC) or Laminar Flow Hood. Here's a general overview of how to perform these tests:

1. Static Condition Test:

  • Ensure that the BSC or Laminar Flow Hood is in a stable condition with all filters and components properly installed.
  • Switch on the unit and allow it to stabilize for a sufficient period according to manufacturer recommendations.
  • Using an appropriate smoke generator or smoke source, introduce a small amount of non-toxic smoke into the unit near the work surface or into the general working area.
  • Observe the smoke movement within the unit, paying attention to airflow patterns, direction, and containment.
  • Note any turbulence, dead zones, or air escaping from unintended areas.
BSC and Laminar Flow Hood Static Smoke Test

2. Dynamic Condition Test:

  • Set up the BSC or Laminar Flow Hood for normal operational conditions as per your specific application.
  • Place items or equipment typically used during normal operations within the unit.
  • Activate the work surface and any other relevant features (e.g., UV light) according to your intended use.
  • Generate smoke near critical areas, such as the work opening, air intakes, or areas where airflow should be monitored closely.
  • Observe the smoke movement under dynamic conditions, taking note of airflow patterns around the items, containment effectiveness, and any areas of smoke escape or turbulence.
  • Perform the test at various work surface heights and positions to assess the impact on airflow patterns.
BSC and Laminar Flow Hood Dynamic Smoke Test

Several devices can be used to generate smoke for airflow visualization tests in a controlled environment. Here are some commonly used devices:

  1. Smoke Candles/Sticks:

    Smoke candles or sticks are a popular choice for generating smoke in a controlled manner. They consist of a slow-burning wick that emits a continuous stream of smoke. They are portable, easy to use, and provide a steady smoke source for airflow visualization.

  2. Smoke Machines/Generators:

    Smoke machines or generators are specialized devices designed specifically for generating smoke. They produce a dense, visible smoke that can be controlled and directed using a nozzle or hose. Smoke machines are available in different sizes and capacities, allowing for flexibility in generating smoke for airflow visualization tests.

  3. Smoke Pens:

    Smoke pens are handheld devices that produce a visible stream of smoke. They typically use non-toxic chemicals to generate the smoke, and they are convenient for creating localized smoke patterns or tracing airflow in smaller areas.

  4. Ultrasonic Foggers:

    Ultrasonic foggers utilize ultrasonic vibrations to create a fog-like mist that can be used for airflow visualization. They are often used for larger areas or open spaces where a more dispersed smoke effect is desired.

  5. Vapor-producing Liquids:

    Certain liquids, such as glycerin-based or mineral oil-based solutions, can be vaporized using a heat source to produce smoke. These liquids are usually placed in a heated container or dish, and the resulting vapor can be used for airflow visualization.

When selecting a smoke-generating device, consider factors such as the size of the test area, the desired density and duration of smoke, and any specific safety requirements. Always choose devices and smoke sources that are non-toxic, safe to use in the intended environment, and comply with relevant regulations and guidelines. Make sure that residue left after the test will be easy to clean. It might be difficult to clean surfaces after oily and glycerin-based liquids.

It's important to follow the manufacturer's instructions and safety guidelines when operating any smoke-generating device and to conduct the airflow visualization tests in a controlled and well-ventilated environment.

By video recording the smoke test, you can capture real-time footage of the airflow patterns and containment performance, allowing for later analysis, review, and documentation. To video record the results of a smoke test for airflow visualization, follow these steps:

  1. Prepare the Equipment:

    Set up a video recording device such as a camera, smartphone, or webcam in a suitable position to capture the desired area and airflow patterns during the smoke test. Ensure that the camera has a clear view of the test area and is stable.

  2. Test Area Visibility:

    Check the lighting conditions in the test area to ensure that the smoke and airflow patterns will be clearly visible in the video recording. Adjust the lighting if needed to optimize visibility.

  3. Positioning the Camera:

    Position the camera at an appropriate angle and distance to capture the entire test area and relevant airflow patterns. Consider the field of view, focus, and stability of the camera to obtain clear and steady footage.

  4. Test Execution:

    Conduct the smoke test as per the planned procedure. Generate the smoke using the chosen smoke-generating device, and observe the airflow patterns, containment, and any other relevant factors of interest. Ensure that the smoke is visible and easily distinguishable on the camera recording.

  5. Start Recording:

    Begin recording the video once the smoke has been introduced into the test area. Keep the camera focused on the critical areas where airflow patterns and containment need to be observed.

  6. Capture Relevant Details:

    Move the camera smoothly and steadily to capture different angles, sections, or critical areas of the test environment. Ensure that the recorded video covers the necessary aspects of the smoke test and provides a comprehensive view of the airflow patterns.

  7. Duration and Coverage:

    Continue recording for an adequate duration to capture all the relevant airflow patterns, smoke movement, and containment observations. Ensure that the video recording covers the entire duration of the smoke test.

  8. Review and Documentation:

    Once the smoke test is completed, review the recorded video to ensure that the desired information is captured clearly. If necessary, repeat the smoke test or record additional footage to supplement the observations.

  9. Documentation and Reporting:

    Document the details of the smoke test, including the video recording, in the qualification or validation documentation. Make notes or annotations in the video to highlight specific observations, critical areas, or any deviations noted during the test.

It is essential to conduct these tests in accordance with applicable guidelines, standards, and regulatory requirements. Refer to specific manufacturer instructions, industry best practices, and relevant regulatory guidelines (such as those from the International Organization for Standardization, ISO) to ensure the correct implementation of the air visualization (smoke) tests. Additionally, document the test procedure, observations, and results as part of the qualification documentation.