Breathing Easier: Air Quality Sampling, IEQ Monitors, and Humidity Meters

April 17, 2014

Recently Paris started enforcing new commuting rules in an effort to reduce smog in the City of Light. Key cities in China, including Beijing and Shanghai, have suffered from poor air quality for some time and now their largest travel agency is offering tourists smog insurance, according to The Guardian.

Many of us are aware that outdoor air quality, especially near major cities, may be less than ideal, but what about indoor air quality? Author Russell McLendon states in 7 Reasons to Consider Indoor Air-Quality Testing, “While we tend to think of air pollution as an outdoor threat, it can be even worse inside the buildings where we live and work.”

Bacharach IEQ Chek™ Indoor Air Quality Monitor with CO2 sensor, range 0 to 20% vol, with pump

Bacharach IEQ Chek™ Indoor Air Quality Monitor with CO2 sensor, range 0 to 20% vol, with pump

Sick building syndrome, as defined by the EPA, can create health and comfort symptoms in occupants and may be the result of inadequate ventilation and/or chemical or biological contaminants. The agency recommends an indoor air quality investigation. Air sampling of basic measurements (such as temperature, relative humidity, carbon dioxide, and air movement) offers an indication of air quality conditions within a facility.

Indoor environmental quality monitors display current conditions and operate as handheld units, fasten to a wall, or stand upright for both portable and stationery use. Specific indoor air quality meters can measure carbon dioxide levels in labs, HVAC systems, food and beverage storage areas, and industrial hygiene settings. Some meters check multiple parameters such as temperature, humidity, dew point, carbon dioxide, and wet bulb, and can be found in greenhouses, office buildings, laboratories, and more.

Humidity meters or thermohygrometers typically measure temperature and humidity and are used to assess conditions in saunas, incubators, museums, industrial areas, and to check ambient air.

Indoor air quality can be compromised by mold and moisture, smoke, radon, asbestos, and other contaminants, include some household cleaning supplies. The EPA states that high temperature and humidity levels can increase the concentrations of some pollutants.

In addition to testing your indoor air quality, check out the EPA’s portfolio of publications on indoor air quality.

Taxing Your Knowledge of Lab Equipment: Take the Tech Challenge

April 15, 2014

On a day known for taxing us, let’s add one more challenge.

Chemical Compatibility with a Plastic Desiccator

TECHCHALLENGE[1]HygroscopINC generally uses large plastic vacuum desiccators (greater than 20 L and up to 28.5″ Hg vacuum pressure) to keep water from reentering its hygroscopic chemicals as they cool from 500ºF. However, they have noticed the plastic starting to crack and fissure when used to cool one of the newer chemicals. They suspect the plastic of their desiccator is not compatible with the fumes of their new chemical, and this is the cause of the fissures inside the plastic desiccators.

They have not noticed any problems with the glass bottles storing the chemical or the silicone and neoprene gaskets on their desiccators, or the metal liner of the caps on the storage bottles. Outside of the glass and the thin stainless steel liner of the caps (silicone and neoprene), they do not have any chemical compatibility data. They are looking for a few desiccators that would be compatible with their newest chemical to replace the fissured plastic units.

What would you suggest?

  1. Glass/Stainless Steel Desiccator with Two Stainless Steel Shelves (08901-60).
  2. The 250-mm Pyrex® Glass Vacuum Desiccator (34548-29).
  3. A vacuum oven with a stainless steel interior (such as the
    1.8 cu ft Salvis® Vacucenter Oven 52402-10).

See answers below


  1. Glass/Stainless Steel Desiccator with Two Stainless Steel Shelves (08901-60).
    Correct! This desiccator has a high capacity interior and is made of parts that are already known to be compatible with the new chemical.
  2. The 250-mm Pyrex Vacuum Desiccator (34548-29).
    Incorrect. Based on the large volume the customer needs the desiccator to hold, this unit will not be sufficient. It has only a 10.5 L capacity.
  3. A vacuum oven with a stainless steel interior (such as the
    1.8 cu ft Salvis Vacucenter Oven 52402-10)

    Incorrect. Although this option would satisfy the internal capacity and chemical compatibility issue, it is overkill. A much more economical alternative exists.

Masterflex Tubing: Get a Sample to Make the Right Choice

April 11, 2014

Masterflex® tubing, used in Masterflex pumps, is manufactured for use in demanding peristaltic pump applications. With 22 different tubing formulations, choosing the right one for your pump and your application is essential. Masterflex tubing is formulated and validated to comply with regulatory standards and classifications including USP, EP, EU Food, FDA, NSF, and 3A.MasterflexTubing

When Choosing Tubing, Consider:

Chemical compatibility: Check our comprehensive chemical compatibility reference tools to assess compatibility

Flow rate: Tubing size directly affects flow rate

Fluid temperature: Check each formulation for staring guidelines and then test based on your specific application

Fluid viscosity, presence of solids, back pressure, or suction lift: High-performance tubing is best for each of these three conditions

Tubing life: Refer to tubing material graphs. Generally, NORPRENE® and PHARMED® tubing offer the best tubing life in applications. High performance precision tubing enhances tubing life 20 to 30% over precision tubing; peroxide-cured silicone tubing provides up to 40% more tubing life.

To get samples of 19 types of Masterflex tubing, as well as a tubing size guide and more, request our Free Masterflex® Tubing Sample/Test Kit.

How to Test Your Tubing

It is a good idea to test your tubing. Here’s how:

1)    Weigh and measure the length and diameter of a tubing sample

2)    Using a closed vessel, immerse the sample in fluid for at least 48 hours

3)    Reweigh, remeasure, and examine the sample for swelling, brittleness, or other signs of deterioration

4)    Test tubing in pump under actual temperature, vacuum, and pressure, or other operating conditions before continuous use

View our entire selection of Masterflex tubing.

What Not To Do With Ultrasonic Cleaners

April 10, 2014

Ultrasonic Cleaners use cavitation, created by ultrasonic waves, to scrub objects made of nonabsorbent materials in the research, pharmaceutical, printing, electronics, engineering, and automotive industries. Higher frequency models clean more gently, precisely, and reliably. Some cleaners offer digital timers, power tracking, sleep mode, and other features for critical cleaning applications.

Cole-Parmer® Ultrasonic Cleaner with Digital Timer and Heater, 3/4 Gallon

Cole-Parmer® Ultrasonic Cleaner with Digital Timer and Heater, 3/4 Gallon

Operating ultrasonic cleaners effectively requires selecting the appropriate solution. What gets in the way of optimal performance? Our technical application specialists advise to avoid the following when using an ultrasonic cleaner:

  • Do not place parts or containers directly on the bottom of the cleaning tank—use a tray or wire to suspend items.
  • Don’t allow the cleaning solution level to drop more than one inch below the top of the tank.
  • Never use alcohol, gasoline, or flammable solutions. Doing so could cause a fire or explosion. Use only water-based solutions.
  • Do not ever use mineral acids. These could damage the tank.
  • Failure to comply with these cautions will void your warranty.

Decreased cavitation or cleaning action can result if:

  • The cleaner is not full enough (always follow directions about how full one should fill the cleaner)
  • One is using water or some other cleaning agent that is not intended for use as an ultrasonic cleaning solution. Also, even with a good cleaning solution, the solution has to be degassed by running the cleaner for approximately 10 minutes prior to use. Otherwise you will also get decreased cavitation.

You can test the cavitation of your ultrasonic cleaner by performing an aluminum foil test: Suspend a small piece of aluminum foil in your cleaner and run for about three minutes. If the cleaner is working properly, the foil should be dimpled or may even have holes. If not, see the guidance above for actions that can cause decreased cavitation.

View our selection of ultrasonic cleaners.


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