Fume hoods are a safety device. They are tools that laboratory professionals can use to stay safe while completing complex tasks with hazardous materials. With that in mind, in order for the fume hood to provide adequate protection, the user must adhere to basic practices to keep them safe. Because no matter how well a fume hood is designed, it cannot provide adequate protection if good laboratory practices are not followed. Here are some guidelines to follow when using a fume hood:
Guidelines for Fume Hood Use
–Ensure the exhaust is operating properly. Since fume hoods are a specialized ventilation system, exhausting hazardous vapors and fumes is its main job. Check the baffles to make sure they are not obstructed. And if the fume hood has an airflow monitor, check the monitor’s status to ensure proper functioning. If you ever suspect changes in airflow while working, pause to check things out.
–When using benchtop fume hoods, keep your face outside of the fume hood. The sash acts as a barrier and is there for protection while completing hazardous work. There is no reason for anything except the user’s hands to cross the plane of the sash and enter the fume hood.
–Users should work at least six inches back from the face of the hood. Adding a stripe to the bench surface can serve as a good reminder to keep enough space.
–Use appropriate protective gear while using the fume hood. For example, splash goggles, gloves, and a full face shield may be needed for acid testing. In case of unplanned spills or fire, safety will be enhanced with protective gear and protect the user from greater harm.
–When using large equipment inside of the fume hood, if practical, place it on blocks. This will allow air to flow beneath it and enable the fume hood to do its job.
–Do not use exterior fans near the fume hood opening. Doing so may cause airflow disturbances which will alter the effectiveness of the fume hood. Likewise, walking near the fume hood opening and making quick motions into or out of the fume hood, may have a similar effect.
–When possible, keep the hood closed. It is necessary to have the fume hood open when working inside of it, but when not in use, keep it closed. When the sash is closed energy will be conserved.
–If fume hood performance is greatly altered while working inside of the hood, close the sash and inspect. Likewise, if an airflow alarm is triggered (when installed), stop use.
–To avoid releasing odorous or hazardous materials into the laboratory air, place such materials in a closed container prior to removing them from the hood.
Planning and preparation are key when effectively using a fume hood. Know the basic functions of the fume hood and design experiments in which exposure to hazardous materials can be minimized. Always look for ways to improve safety and evaluate research proposals ahead of time.
A fume hood is an incredible device that allows laboratory professionals to accomplish many tasks. Use it effectively and wisely, and the fume hood will perform as expected. Check out National Laboratory Sales and their widest selection of fume hoods to find one that can be used effectively in your laboratory.