What is a Fume Extraction System?

What is a Fume Extraction System?

23 July 2021
industrial welding equipment workshop with welding fume and dust extractor

A fume extractor is a mechanical device that removes dangerous particles or gases in the air, making it much safer for people to operate in the vicinity. They are commonly used in manufacturing where a variety of airborne hazards are likely to be present but can also be used for a smaller scale for workshops including garages.

They can be utilised, for example, to remove flour dust and other food particles in large factories, reduce sawdust, metal dust and construction dust on sites.

Fumes are just as problematic and can also be created during various processes – paint manufacturers have to contend with paint fumes, for example. Welders will often be subjected to dangerous toxins while carrying out their work and many industries use dangerous chemicals that can also cause major health problems.

An effective fume extractor is designed to ameliorate these issues, fulfil the company’s legal obligations and keep everyone as safe as possible.

Many businesses produce potentially dangerous fumes and particles in their normal activity and removing these from the environment is critical in maintaining health and safety standards as well as staying on the right side of current legislation.

At Atmostherm Ltd, we have a long and distinguished track record of installing fume extractors for businesses in and around Manchester and the North West. Our experienced technical team will be able to assess your operation and develop a bespoke extraction system that keeps the air clean and healthy.

Whether you need an entirely new system installing or wish to upgrade what you currently have, take out a maintenance and inspection plan with us or simply need advice about your set up, our team is ready to help.

Our in-house design capability means that can provide solutions for a range of different sizes, ensuring air quality is maintained and the health and safety of workers and visitors protected, whatever industry you are involved with.

Not only that, our team can work with your business to ensure your system is maintained at optimal performance at all times, giving you complete peace of mind.

The Importance of Fume Extraction

Solder fumes, dust particles and toxic gases are all dangerous when they are confined within the four walls of a property. Local exhaust ventilation or LEV is essential if the people working in your business who are around airborne particles at any time are to be kept safe.

Even something like an unguarded circular saw can produce dust and other particles that can easily get into the lungs and cause damage. In manufacturing and other plants across the UK, there may be multiple processes that produce unhealthy environments and where effective extraction will be legally required.

The size and positioning of any fume extraction unit, of course, will depend on a wide range of factors including the size and type of building, location and the number of people working in a particular area.

As you might expect, employers have a duty of care and legal obligation to protect people using their premises including workers. Much of the legislation in this respect is covered under the Control of Substances Hazardous to Health (CoSHH) Regulations 2002.

Despite these regulations, however, many thousands of workers are subjected to poor air quality and are exposed to a variety of different contaminants. It can affect a wide range of people from employees of an industrial bakery to people working on a building site. Even mild steel welding fumes are now considered hazardous.

Particles in the air from working processes can cause issues such as occupational asthma, eye and throat irritation, skin rashes and other problems, over long term exposure, such as various cancers of the throat, sinonasal cavity and even the lungs, including asbestosis.

For businesses that fail to have the appropriate fume extraction equipment in place or do not maintain it properly, there is the likelihood of prosecution, fines and legal action from those who have been adversely affected.  In many cases, eliminating these hazards completely is not possible – employers should, however, make every effort to reduce their impact and provide a safe environment for employees.

How Does a Fume Extractor Work?

In most cases, a fume extractor uses a fan to create a negative draft which then pulls air full of particulates up and out of the work area. It will use a filter of some kind to trap those particles and fumes before sometimes recircling clean air back into the workplace.

Depending on the location, fume extractors can be mobile or stationary. In a large factory, you may well have a network of fume extractors of different types, positioned according to what processes are being carried out. These can either be relatively simple or highly complex systems but all need to be regularly maintained and inspected.

Businesses that require some form of fume extractor each has their unique needs and a lot of different factors need to be taken into consideration. A large factory with high ceilings, for example, is likely to have many different installation and positioning requirements to a small workshop. In an average factory, you may see large fans in the ceiling above that are used to keep the air clean and safe to breathe.

For large manufacturing outlets, having the fume extraction unit built into the infrastructure is often the most cost-effective solution and reduces the risk of needing portable solutions, although these may also be used. It also makes it easier to monitor fume and particle levels and ensures the system is working properly at all times.

The Benefits of Fume Extractors

According to the HSE, there are some 12,000 deaths each year from lung conditions that can be directly linked to past exposures at work. Many of these fatalities were caused by poor practices many years ago that led to employees breathing in dangerous fumes and particles during their working day.

Over the last couple of decades, however, changes in legislation and greater awareness has put the onus on employers to make workplaces as safe as they possibly can. Fume extractors now form a vital part of the operational process of many businesses across the UK.

  • Fumes and dust particles are removed at the source and don’t hang around in the air.
  • This helps prevent the buildup of harmful gases and particles.
  • It means your business meets its legal, environmental and moral obligations when it comes to worker safety.
  • Cleaner air ensures worker health and reduces time off due to sickness and absence and prevents long-term illness.
  • Removing dust and other particles helps protect surrounding machinery.

Types of Fume Extractor

It’s important when building a new extractor system that it has to be as close as possible to the area where the fumes or particles are being created. There is a range of different types of fume extractors that are used in modern industry, including:

  • Portable/mobile extractors: These can be moved from place to place and are essentially self-contained units.
  • Benchtop extractors: If there is a certain work area that produces particles or fumes, this can be built into the infrastructure. This works for activities such as soldering or where pharmaceuticals may produce unwanted chemicals in preparation or sorting.
  • Wall-mounted/ceiling mounted extractors: These are generally used in bigger premises are positioned above or close to where work is being carried out.

Fume extractors also use filters and these will depend on the size of the particle or the type of fume being removed. ASHRAE, HEPA and ULPA filters, for example, are used to remove light dust and provide control of particulate of various sizes. In some cases, they can also catch bacteria adding more health benefits.

When it comes to chemical fumes, specially blended activated carbon filters are generally used although much depends on the type of gas being absorbed. If there is a large range of different particulates in the air, a micro-pleat filter that can be cleaned during maintenance may also be used.

Fume Extractor Installation: A Quick Guide

Fume extraction systems can be incredibly complicated depending on the type of facility and the particulates or fumes that are being handled. Many manufacturing businesses will have a range of different operations going on at one time and will require a bespoke solution that is unique to the layout.

At Atmostherm Ltd, our expert team will generally begin with understanding what the existing system is and what could best replace it. There are a lot of different factors to take into account:

  • The size of the workshop or facility.
  • The type of manufacturing or work process being undertaken in each area.
  • The type of fume or particulate being created.
  • The amount of wall, floor and ceiling space.

The range of processes being carried out can have a huge impact on what system is installed and its extent. For example, smaller workplaces where welding is being undertaken at close quarters by employees will generally benefit from downdraft systems that are built into benches. Systems are usually rated on the amount of air that they can circulate every minute to provide an optimal and efficient system.

Bespoke design is essential for a lot of businesses we deal with in the North West and getting the right mix for your business, whatever its requirements, is important.

Installation is also a vital part of the process. At Asmostherm, we have many years of experience in delivering these types of systems. Once we’ve completed the work, you’ll be given the full documentation for your fume extraction model, including:

  • All operation and maintenance manuals for the equipment installed.
  • Reports confirming that your system complies with current regulations.
  • All user manuals and logbooks.
  • Contact details for our servicing team and details of your maintenance plan.

Maintenance and Servicing for Your Fume Extractor

While installing a bespoke system for your business is important, so is ongoing maintenance and service to ensure that you always operate at optimal efficiency. With many years of experience in the industry, we can not only offer this service to businesses that have new systems installed by us but for those who have existing fume extractors installed by other companies.

We can visit your business to assess your current fume extractor system and carry out regular maintenance and servicing as well as repairs. It’s the law that any ventilation system that removes dangerous fumes or particles is inspected at least twice a year to ensure it is operating properly. Our team will work with you to make sure that all legal obligations are met and your system is working optimally.

Large fume extraction systems that are well-maintained not only create better air quality for employees but can save money on utility bills as well. The new systems that are coming onto the market today are built to high specifications and designed to reduce your carbon footprint and energy bills.

Fume Extraction in Manchester and the North West

At Atmostherm Ltd, we’ve worked with a wide range of businesses across Manchester and the North West. We’ve built strong relationships with companies across the region, installing extractors that remove exhaust fumes, the pharmaceutical and food industries and manufacturing outlets.

Why Choose Atmostherm Ltd

With more than 40 years of experience in the industry, providing a wide range of heat and ventilation systems as well as fume extractors to Manchester and the North West, we are well placed to deliver the bespoke solution that your business is looking for.

We handle all aspects of fume extraction and count many manufacturing businesses among our long-term clients. We can help design and install a bespoke system that works perfectly for your business, handle all maintenance and inspection even if you have an existing extractor installed by another company.

Our team members are fully trained and highly qualified and we have a strong reputation for bringing installations in on time and budget.

Need advice on fume extraction or looking for to install a new system? A member of our experienced team will be happy to answer any questions. Call: 0800 085 7510.