Chemical Fume Hoods: A Buyers’ 4 Minute Mini-Manual

Lab operations, whether it is research or clinical applications, require working with a wide range of chemical compounds, which can have deleterious effects on the workers inside. Besides, the air becomes polluted by toxic chemical vapors, suspended particles, and aerosols. Special measures must be taken to shield employees from the direct exposure to these chemicals. To eliminate toxic substances from the air and to create a hygienic workplace, filtering systems like chemical fume hoods have become indispensable. Today, there are a number of lab furniture manufacturers, offering high-quality lab solutions for all types of lab and factory operations. 

Purchasing a lab fume hood is an excellent way of ensuring the safety of workers, but it is also essential to develop an insight into such equipment to make the investment count. To help you understand the role and specifications of this expedient lab equipment, we have summarized some of its significant attributes below.

Purpose of Fume Hoods

By definition, a chemical fume hood is referred to an enclosed device for necessary exhaust applications. Assuming the role of a filter, these devices are produced with vacuum to draw air inward with the help of ventilation. Lab workers usually operate within the enclosed space, which limits the exposure to harmful chemicals.

Also known as laboratory fume hoods, these items are one of the best ways of securing the health of everyone working inside the laboratory provided all the guidelines are closely followed. Here are a few ways chemical fume hoods can protect workers:

  • Fume hoods are responsible for filtering vapors, dust, gases and fumes produced within the hood while working on the experiment.
  • Apart from eliminating toxins from the air, these devices can greatly contribute to the laboratory ventilation as the air passes through the hood.
  • The operators are protected from the direct exposure to these chemicals with a clear sliding window, which acts as a sash for removing aerosols and preventing workplace injuries, such as minor explosions inside the hood.

Types of Fume Hoods

Broadly speaking, chemical fume hoods are of two major variants:

  • Constant Air Volume (CAV) Hoods

In constant air volume (CAV) hoods, the same amount of air is exhausted all the time, no matter where the position of the sash is. Depending on the position of the sash, the velocity at the face of the hood also changes.

  • Variable Air Volume (VAV) Hoods

A relatively new model, the variable air volume (VAV) hood regulates the air flow depending on the sash height, guaranteeing up to 100 feet per minute face velocity at all sash positions. VAV fume hoods are designed with a monitor for switching between “the standard operation” and “the standby operation” modes. For emergencies, the “emergency purge” button can be pressed, which can exacerbate the airflow through the hood and dispense all contaminants from the lab.


Although designed with a number of efficacious features, laboratory hoods have their own set of limitations and are not suitable for all types of applications. Speaking of the demerits, fume hoods have no practical applications when it comes to bio-hazardous substances. Generally, a biological safety cabinet or BSC is recommended for operating with infectious agents. Since BSCs are specially designed for working with biological and pathological samples, they ensure the protection of research materials from various contaminations.  Going forward, highly toxic compounds, devices such as glove box or containment system are usually preferred over traditional hoods.

Final Thoughts

Equipped with expedient features, fume hoods are so much more than a filtering device. Besides eliminating toxins from the air and ensuring the safety of the operators, these devices can go a long way in building a hygienic workplace for the workers. Buyers looking to install chemical hoods are recommended to develop the necessary insight into these devices and pay close attention to the certification to ensure a good investment.

Have questions about Chemical Fume Hoods, an RDM Industrial Products specialist can help. RDM has a selection of fume hoods to meet your specific needs. Offering efficiency, safety and affordability combined, so give us a call today.


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