Chemical Fume Hood Safety

Chemical fume hood safety is extremely important while working in the laboratory. A chemical fume hood is one of the essential parts of laboratory equipment, which protects the staff working with hazardous chemicals. Fume hoods protect from inhaling chemical gases, vapors, and aerosols, by acting as the physical barrier between the staff and the hazardous materials inside the hood. Additionally, they also offer a degree of splash protection as well.

But you should keep in mind the best practices important to the proper functioning of a fume hood.

Purpose

Get a basic understanding of what a fume hood is. They might all look the same but vary slightly according to their uses. So pay exceptional care to their use cases. A typical fume hood is designed to keep the vapors away from the user through a blower that is either remotely located or integrated into the fume itself.

Some fume hoods also have carbon filters. In this case, the blower will direct the vapor towards the filters and recirculate the air back into the lab. These fume hoods are designed to protect “personnel only” and are fundamentally different from laminar flow hoods intended for product only.

Placement

Place the sample more than 6 inches below the hood for maximum efficiency. This is a necessary safety standard, set and practiced by ANSI/AIHA z9.5. This also states that no equipment should touch the airfoil along the front of the surface.

The airfoil is essential and hence should never be used to set a beaker upon. The holes in the airfoil allow the air to sweep the surface clean of any contaminated air by pushing it back to the baffle to exhaust.

Close the Sash

When not in operation, the sashes should be closed. This is a necessary safety precaution, which also helps in rescuing energy consumption. If a lab works on a variable air volume system, the sash sensors (which control the volumetric flow) help save a lot of energy by lowering the flow to an acceptable minimum.

Clear the Hood

A fume hood is not a storage cabinet. Keep this in mind. It is used for vapors and might cause health problems. The hoods are pieces of laboratory equipment and should be treated as such. Using it to store personal artifacts can result in spillage, which might cause financial and life loss.

Periodic Tests

One of the best ways to ensure that your equipment stays in top condition is to test it regularly. The humidity, time, and weather all play a role in determining the health of your fume hood. The operating face velocity might change due to any factors which would reduce its efficacy. Hence, regular tests and supervision can allow the hood to last longer than average.

Additional practices

  • Keep the work area clean and uncluttered
  • Inspect the hood annually
  • The face velocity average should be between 80 – 150 feet per minute
  • Ensure that the various openings (sash, airfoil, bypass area) are unblocked.
  • Do not put your head inside the fume hood.
  • No equipment should block the baffles at the rear of the hood.
  • Don’t open and close the sash rapidly
  • Keep the hood exhaust on at all times.
  • Ensure that the chemical
  • Clean any spill immediately
  • Keep the sash closed when not in use

Conclusion

A good fume hood eliminates any exposure to volatile liquids. But you should exercise caution when using it. Keep the points mentioned above in mind. Also, ensure that the fumer hood has a current calibration sticker and marker indicating the highest sash height to be sued while working with hazardous materials.

Additionally, all the hoods should be equipped with at least a single type of continuous quantitative monitoring device. This will help provide the user with the current and latest information on the operational use of the fume hood.

Finally, keep in mind that a fume hood contains volatile vapors and gases. So wear your safety gear whenever you interact with it. Do not let your guard down, ensure that the hood is appropriately maintained, and use it with caution. Keeping these points in mind should allow you to use the hood to its maximum capacity while being safe and negating any risk involved.

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