Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

What is a fume hood?

A fume hood is an enclosed device that works to ensure the safety of lab personnel while working with hazardous materials by continuously delivering airflow away from the user. When used properly, fume hoods can prevent users and the environment from toxic gases, explosions, and spills.

What is the purpose of a fume hood?

By design, a fume hood provides a barrier between lab workers and toxic fumes by filtering the air inside the laboratory. Over several years, inhaling hazardous vapors can cause toxic particles to become lodged in the lungs and can also result in liver damage, which is why it’s important to use a fume hood if you work with toxic materials.

How does a fume hood work?

Fume hoods work by filtering the air to prevent the inhalation of toxic particles that can lodge in the lungs and cause serious health implications. Ducted fume hoods remove the air from the laboratory and disperse it into the atmosphere outside. Ductless fume hoods recirculate the air by filtering it before redistributing it back into the laboratory.

How do I know which fume hood is right for my lab?

Types of fume hoods include bench-top, floor-mounted, double-faced, and portable. The right type of fume hood you need will depend on what materials will be present in your lab, the number of chemicals you work with, how often you will use the hood, and the kind of ductwork in your workspace. To determine the right fume hood for you, consider your laboratory layout, your budget, the scope of your project, and the chemicals you will be using.

How much does a fume hood cost?

Many factors are considered when pricing a fume hood. Prices differ greatly depending on the dimensions of the hood, special features, and add-ons. A fume hood that is made for work that may result in explosions will be priced much higher than one intended for spill containment. According to industry professionals, the “rule of thumb” is anywhere from $1,200 to $2,500 per square foot. This means the cost of a 6-foot fume hood could fall anywhere from $7,200 to $15,000.

What voltage does a fume hood require?

A standard fume hood can be plugged into a 120-volt outlet while accommodations can be made for 240-volt outlets. Nearly all fume hoods, ducted and ductless, operate at a voltage that is safe for these outlets. However, it is always good to check the supply voltage for a fume hood, which can be found on the rating plate of each junction box.

What is a fume hood sash?

The sash refers to the front window or “door” of a fume hood. The glass window slides open and closed, allowing access to the workstation. The sash window provides both containment and protection from hazardous materials. The safety glass of the sash is designed to “spider” instead of shatter in the event of an explosion.

Why do I have to keep the fume hood sash closed?

A fume hood is not designed to contain high-velocity releases of contaminants unless the sash is fully closed. If an explosion occurs when the sash is open, the glass and contents inside the hood will be spread around the laboratory, potentially harming other lab personnel.

Will the glass of the sash protect me from explosions?

In the case of an explosion, sashes are designed to “spider” instead of shatter, keeping those in the area safe from glass and chemicals. While they aren’t designed to handle every incident, a properly-installed fume hood will provide protection from small explosions and fires.

Can a biosafety cabinet be used as a fume hood?

Biosafety cabinets are designed to provide a clean work environment and protection for personnel who create aerosols when working with infectious biological agents or toxins. A biosafety cabinet is appropriate when only small quantities of volatiles are present. If the amount is determined hazardous by a safety officer, then a fume hood is necessary. Most biosafety cabinets are not safe to use in place of a fume hood. Here is more information about the difference between biosafety equipment and fume hoods.

What is the difference between a CAV and VAV fume hood?

Constant air volume (CAV) ventilation provides a constant flow of air, whether the sash is open or not. This system exhausts a significant amount of energy. Some fume hoods have variable air volume (VAV) ventilation. These hoods vary the volume of air from the room that is exhausted while maintaining the face velocity at a predetermined level. Though the VAV system conserves more energy, it costs much more than the CAV system.

How do I find when my fume hood was last inspected?

All fume hoods should have a coded certification or marking displaying the date of the last inspection.

Where should a fume hood be placed in a lab?

The National Fire Protection Association recommends placing fume hoods at least 10 feet from any doorway and away from high-traffic areas, air supply diffusers, or windows. A fire or explosion could block a passageway and trap personnel in the lab. Also, any area that produces air currents or potential turbulence could affect the ability of the hood to capture and exhaust contaminants as designed.

How do I clean a fume hood?

First, make sure that the cleaning agents will not react with the chemicals in the hood. 

  • Polyglass Liner: Mild soap and water. 
  • Sash Glass: Commercial glass cleaner. 
  • Painted Steel Surfaces: Mild soap and water, ethyl alcohol or commercial glass cleaner. 
  • Epoxy Liner and Worktops: Mild soap and water, solvent, or commercial glass cleaner.
  • Plumbing Fixtures: Fixtures are coated with a corrosive resistant coating. Mild soap or detergent only. Do not use an abrasive cleanser.