October 29, 2018
How to Maintain Optimal Laboratory Temperature and Humidity
This quick guide will help you understand the requirements around maintaining optimal laboratory temperatures and humidity. We’ll also go over the processes for maintaining optimal temperatures in the lab.
More than 7 billion lab tests happen in the United States each year. Whether a lab handles a large percentage or a tiny fraction, accurate results are always the goal.
Laboratory environment can play a crucial role in getting those results. It’s one of the reasons there are standards designed to create optimal lab conditions.
Laboratory temperature and humidity are two key factors in creating ideal lab conditions. If the humidity is too high or too low, it could affect the accuracy of sensitive tests. Temperature also plays a part in ensuring samples aren’t contaminated.
Start with the Basics: Regulatory Requirements
There are many organizations that outline laboratory temperature and humidity requirements. The purpose of these guidelines and rules are to prevent sample contamination.
In the United States, the Food and Drug Administration has guidelines for labs. These regulations describe optimal temperatures between 20 and 25 degrees Celsius. Humidity should be somewhere between 30 to 50 percent.
Other standards exist. The World Health Organization, for example, also has guidelines. The International Standards Organization also requires temperature controls in primary standards laboratories.
Why Are Temperature and Humidity Such a Big Concern?
As we mentioned, the primary concern is preventing contamination. Silicone stoppers, for example, can allow contamination if the climate is too dry. More static builds up on the stoppers, allowing contaminants to collect.
Improper climate control can also allow for the growth of microbes and bacteria. You may want to encourage or discourage this, depending on the tests you’re running. The right temperature helps you get more accurate results.
Finally, temperature and humidity are also important to the workplace environment itself. Workplace environments with extreme temperature changes may even have trouble with employment law.
Steps in Maintaining Optimal Laboratory Temperature and Humidity
There are several ways to make sure your lab environment stays at the right temperature. You’ll want to look at everything from the equipment you use to your monitoring processes.
Your climate control strategy should include:
- Clear goals, such as the optimal temperature range and relative humidity
- An overview of the tools used to maintain the temperature
- The processes for monitoring temperature
- The procedure for dealing with system malfunctions
- A review process for making sure the strategy is working
Outlining all these different aspects gives you a road map to work from. Goals provide the vision. Processes and procedures tell you exactly how you’ll achieve them.
The review process will help you to continue making improvements.
Creating Goals for the Optimal Climate
The first thing to do when you make a temperature maintenance strategy in your lab is set goals. The first goal is to define an acceptable range of temperatures, as well as relative humidity. You might include an ideal temperature as well.
You’ll want to include other goals too. What does successful maintenance of temperature look like? You may want to think about how soon problems should be reported and resolved.
What’s in Your Toolkit?
Now you’ve created goals for climate control in the laboratory. You should break goals down more if there are areas with different temperature needs. Some labs may have lower or higher tolerances for changes in temperature.
Once you’ve finished defining temperature and humidity goals in the lab, you should look at tools. These might include:
- Air conditioning and heating systems
- Insulation in the building itself
- Ventilation systems and airflow engineering
- A laboratory temperature monitoring system
- Specialized equipment
Some of the tools you can use may not be tangible. Employee education is a valuable tool when it comes to keeping the lab at the right temperature. Employees who are aware will work to help you maintain temperatures.
Monitoring and Maintenance
You might think the most important things in temperature control are air conditioning and heating units. Ventilation systems, airflow, and even insulation also play a role.
A laboratory temperature and humidity monitor is another key piece. If you don’t have one, how will you know if you’re achieving your goals?
The monitoring system can help you track fluctuations in temperature. It can also notify you if lab temperatures drop too low or get too high. The best monitors also help you set and maintain ideal temperatures.
The monitor can also let you know something isn’t working as it should. This can help you maintain the systems to support better climate control in your lab.
Reviewing the Strategy and Determining Success
Another important part of laboratory temperature monitoring is tracking historical data and fluctuations. The right monitor collects data and compiles reports for you. With these reports in hand, it’s easy to see patterns and trends.
From there, you can determine if you’re meeting your goals. You might think your current system is working well, only to see lab temperatures change many times a day. This kind of information can help as you review and revise your strategy.
The system can also give insight into how often the temperature exceeds thresholds. It can even provide data about when fluctuations occur, so you can link those changes back to causes.
With so much information at your fingertips, it’s easy to decide your next steps. Revising your strategy has never been easier.
It’s Time to Upgrade Your Monitoring System
Maintaining optimal laboratory temperature and humidity is anything but a set-and-forget operation. You should be actively watching your lab to determine how well your current system works. Getting the right insights can help you determine how to improve these controls.
If you want to track the temperature in your lab with more precision, a new monitoring system might be what you need. The right system will help you improve climate control for better lab results.
Finding the right monitoring system for your needs is easy. Check out our products, or talk to one of our team experts about getting the right solution for you.