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Work activity or the presence of harmful substances in industrial environments frequently produces airborne contaminants. These contaminants can be controlled by isolating them from the breathing zone, substitution of a less hazardous substance or process, or by providing adequate ventilation. Ventilation is one of the most common engineering control methods, and can be defined as the movement of fresh air into a space in order to replace contaminated air and/or control the temperature in a space.
Natural ventilation usually does not provide a sufficient volume of airflow to ventilate enclosed spaces, or to promptly remove highly toxic airborne contaminants from breathing zones. Mechanically aided ventilation, measured in cubic feet per minute (CFM), is generally classified as either "dilution" (consisting of a supply and exhaust system) or as "local exhaust." A properly designed local exhaust system located at the source of the contamination is extremely effective in removing contaminants.
The effectiveness and efficiency of supply and exhaust fans will depend upon the volume of air that is moved in conjunction with the proximity to the contamination source. The following principles and safety controls should be considered whenever ventilation systems are utilized:
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