Fume Hoods

One of the primary safety devices in a laboratory is a chemical fume hood. A well-designed hood, when properly installed and maintained, can offer a substantial degree of protection to the user, provided that it is used appropriately and its limitations are understood.

picture of bio safety cabinet and chemical fume hood

bio safety cabinet filters the potentially contaminated air through high efficiency particulate (HEPA) filters and then vents that air back into the room and therefore should not be used when working with hazardous chemicals. 

All fume hoods and other capture devices must be installed in consultation with Facilities and EHS. All new installations or relocation of fume hoods must be commissioned by EHS prior to use. To request that a new or relocated fume hood be commissioned, contact EHS.

If you know your fume hood is not working properly, contact Special Facilities for your building or submit a work order.

If you are not sure if your hood is working properly, contact Joan Hutzly to request a hood evaluation.

When is a Fume Hood Necessary?

The determination that a fume hood is necessary for a particular experiment should be based on a hazard analysis of the planned work. Such an analysis should include:

  • A review of the physical characteristics, quantity and toxicity of the materials to be used;
  • The experimental procedure;
  • The volatility of the materials present during the experiment; 
  • The probability of their release;
  • The number and sophistication of manipulations; and 
  • The skill and expertise of the individual performing the work.

How a Fume Hood Works

This section covers the basic design and functioning components of a fume hood and the difference between constant volume and variable air volume (VAV) hoods.

Performance Indicators

This section covers the various flow and performance indicators and the survey sticker.

Proper Work Practices

This section covers a number of topics aimed at helping laboratory workers understand conditions and proper work practices for using fume hoods safely

Common Misuses and Limitations

This section covers a number of topics aimed at helping laboratory workers understand the limitations and proper use of the fume hood

Changes or additions to an existing fume hood without the explicit approval of the department's facilities manager or Special Facilities supervisor is prohibited. Adding devices to even the simplest exhaust system without adequate evaluation and adjustment will usually result in decreased performance of the existing hood and/or inadequate performance of the additional device. Additionally some components of older hoods may contain asbestos and therefore should not be damaged.