Top 8 Things to Do When Working With Laboratory Fume Hoods

Posted by armstronglouis1 on January 10th, 2017

A fume hood is a critical component of a laboratory. It gets rid of vapors that originate from chemical reactions and reagents in the lab. While fumes help lab workers to keep safety in check, they pose potential threats if used inappropriately. For instance, they can expose people to fumes that cause breathing problems and even cancer. Some of these fumes are highly flammable and can cause fire in the lab. That is why it is crucial for lab operators to work with fume hoods as required. Here are a few tips on how you can use laboratory fume hoods safely.

Ensure the pressure gauge is tight

You need to constantly check the pressure gauge of fume hoods to ensure they are in the right shape. Since fume hoods run 24/7, the pressure gauges may come off due to continuous pressure, which makes them loose over time. The pressure gauge is critical because it sets off the alarm of the gauge when the face velocity falls below 70 percent. This allows people in the lab to move out when the exposure is still at its safety index. Create a negative pressure to determine whether the system is working properly. Also, record the closing pressure before you set up the equipment.

Check the signs displayed on the front end of the hood

Most laboratory fume hoods come with a signage on their faces to guide users on how to use them. The signage usually contains the maximum allowable temperature and airflow. From the signage, you can determine whether the temperature or the airflow is out of range. It also gives guidelines on the air flow conditions for different chemicals. The real-time signs on the equipment will also tell you whether it is out of service.

Maintain good airflow

You need to keep the airflow at the bottom and the top of the equipment constant. Most fume hoods have legs to make them more stable on the bench. This will allow free flow of air at the bottom and the top in equal measure.

Consider the type of ventilation in your laboratory

You need to evaluate the types of ventilation in the fume hood before you start the experiment. Knowing the type of ventilation will help you to decide what to do next in case of an exposure. Some equipment have vented spaces that expel fumes through external exhaust systems. Others have re-circulating spaces that filter the fumes in the equipment and returns fresh air. The choice of the equipment depends on your scope of work. If you are handling a small project, it is co-effective to purchase re-circulating hoods. Vented hoods are suitable for large scientific and industrial projects.

Check for anything odd

Look for any audio or visual cues that indicate a change in function of the equipment. A strange sound on the equipment may indicate that the fan has a broken fan belt. Constantly check for airflow in the system using a smoke stick. If there is something odd about the flow, check the duct and the blower. Also, know how to turn the equipment on and off.

Take measurements of the work station

Measurements of the work station are important because it allows you to know the amount of space available for the fume. Remember measurements are important when installing fumes. The space in the room should not be confined, as this may increase the risk of exposure. Most fumes come in 1,000 mm to 2,000 mm sizes. They also vary in overall weight and depth. Determining the sizing requirements will enable to choose the right place for the equipment.

De-clutter the workstation

Your workstation must look neat and clear. The lab contains too many flammable and volatile chemicals kept in open bottlers. Leaving the bottles all over the table while at the same time working on another experiment is a risk you don’t want to take. It is most likely that you will forget and knock off one or two bottles before the end of the experiment. Store all the volatile bottles in fume hoods and remove everything you have been using once the experiment is over.

Plan for the accidents

Accidents are sometimes inevitable despite the precautionary measures you take. You need to make plans for the accidents associated with laboratory fumes hoods. Think about the immediate course of action you will take the day the experiment will go wrong. Anticipate that moment when a clumsy student or lab worker drops a volatile chemical. Determine the type of hood that will be able to contain the problem. In this case, you must look for a fume with high-end features. Look for something with extra blowers for emergency response. Consider a fume that has all the electrical joints outside the system. In case the fume stops when you are in the middle of an experiment, close the sash completely and turn off all the equipment. Move out of the laboratory. If you are a student, contact a laboratory assistant immediately.

You don’t have to spend a lot of money or go to expensive training classes to get helpful tips on how to work with a fume hood. These tips will help you to work with a laboratory fume hood well.

(Information is taken from

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