Chemical Fume Hoods: An Overview

A modern laboratory is not restricted to a utilitarian space, as it serves as a hub of research activities. Since lab experiments require working with highly reactive chemicals and pathogenic substances, laboratories demand specially designed furniture. Among the most popular variants of lab furniture, chemical fume hoods have gained recognition for their efficacious attributes. By definition, a fume hood denotes an enclosed device, which is specially designed to draw air inward using mechanical ventilation. Popularly known as laboratory fume hoods, these devices are responsible for controlling the exposure to hazardous substances. This article offers an overview of lab fume hoods, discussing some of the essential aspects of this beneficial furniture.

Applications

Chemical fume hoods, if properly handled by operators, can be regarded as one of the most efficient lab products, protecting the workers from hazardous substances. Besides eliminating harmful particles, which include vapors, dust, gases, and fumes, from the hood, the product is also responsible for venting them and allowing fresh air to flow into the hood. By limiting the exposure to harmful chemicals, these fume hoods shield the lab workers with sliding doors.

As a significant laboratory component, fume hoods have a number of distinct advantages over traditional ventilation systems and are recognized for their multifarious applications. Although spotted in research labs and clinics, fume hoods serve several notable applications today.  For instance, it has been successfully appropriated in botanical laboratories and manufacturing units. Besides these, the laboratory hoods are also deployed in the electronics industry, medical facilities, semiconductor industry, and circuit board manufacturing.

Types

While the most common type of fume hood is the bypass hood, there are other forms of hoods available based on the working principles. Bypass hoods are mostly suitable for regulating a constant volume of air, so they are also known as the constant air volume or CAV fume hoods. Since they operate at constant volume of air, it vents the same amount of air all the time. Speaking of more advanced models, there’s variable air volume hoods or VAV hoods, which regulate air flow based on sash height, maintaining 100 feet per minute face velocity, regardless of the position of the sash. In most cases, variable fume hoods are designed with monitors that reveal whether the fume hood is the standard mode or standby mode. Apart from these facilities, many VAV hoods also have emergency purge option.

 Limitations

Equipped with a range of expedient features, laboratory fume hoods have become an indispensable part of all modern laboratories, from clinics to research labs. Although fume hoods are recognized for their useful applications, they are not entirely free from limitations. For instance, fume hoods are not a great idea if lab operations involve working with bio-hazardous materials. To prevent contaminations, options like a biological safety cabinet (BSC) can go a long in protecting the workplace environment from biological agents. For highly toxic materials, workers can use a glove box or other alternatives can be conducive.

Purchasing a Chemical Fume Hood

Like any other lab furniture, fume hoods are available in various forms and sizes, so finding the right device for the workplace can be an enervating task. To begin with, it is crucial to examine the working conditions of the office to find out which type of hood will be suitable for the operations. Besides this, factors like the size of the workplace, materials, the nature of experiments, play a pivotal role in the selection. Last but not the least, it is essential to settle with a certified provider. Since laboratory furniture is a long-term investment, one should enlist a professional to make an informed decision.

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