Laboratory fume hoods (also known as fume cupboards) are an important safety measure in many laboratories that work with chemicals. They act as a ventilation system and prevent dangerous fumes, gases, vapours and dust from harming laboratory staff. Fume hoods are considered as a piece of laboratory furniture and can be found in most laboratories that have to work with any hazardous substances.
Why are fume hoods necessary?
Ensuring staff protection against dangerous fumes, chemicals, gases and vapours - fume hoods are an undoubtedly necessary part of lab equipment. Whenever laboratory activities include work with hazardous substances, it is important to perform these procedures under a fume hood. In addition to protecting personel, fume hoods are also helpful in protecting the object of experiment and the environment nearby (from the exhausted vapours).
How do fume hoods work?
Fume hoods work like many other ventilation systems, as they draw in and capture the air. The difference with laboratory fume hoods is that they filter out all of the hazardous air gases, vapours, fumes, etc. After that, depending on the fume hood design, they either blow out the cleaned air outside of the building or back to the laboratory room.
What are the types of fume hoods?
Laboratory fume hoods are usually classified according their shapes and sizes:
- Portable fume hoods
- Tabletop fume hoods
- Compact fume hoods
- Double-sided fume hoods
- Walk-in fume hoods
And more designs or custom solutions.
How often should fume hoods be tested?
As laboratory fume hoods have a task as important as protecting staff, it is crucial to make sure that this piece of equipment is operating properly. As OSHA (Occupational Safety and Health Administration) suggest, you should make fume hood performance tests at least once a year or - preferably - every three months.
How to check if your fume hood works properly?
You should always check if the fumes hood you are using is working properly, as an error could be seriously harmfull to people working in the lab. The procedure is quite simple. As YSU Department of Chemistry suggests, 1) start with turning on the hood; 2) then check if the vaneometer ribbon doesn‘t need replacement; 3) match the red arrows in sash and on the side of the hood‘s panel; 4) in order to see the data, hold the vaneometer in the center of the hood; 5) check if the fume hood operated at a face velocity of 80-120 linear feet per minute. You can read their full instructions here.