Regardless of the size or purpose of your laboratory, fume hoods are an essential piece of safety equipment if any toxic or otherwise dangerous chemicals will be used. Fume hoods are essentially ventilated containment chambers into which you insert your arms to handle chemicals, and without them, many lab workers would have to risk their lives every day to do their jobs. Here are a few of the reasons why you need a fume hood in just about any laboratory setting.
Protects Chemists’ Lungs
Proper fume hoods are designed to mechanically pull in outside air, thereby diluting any toxic gases, dusts or vapors before expelling them via your laboratory’s exhaust system. This process, along with the physical walls of the hood itself, prevent chemists working in the lab from inhaling any of these harmful airborne substances. Despite these protective measures, proper fume hood practices still dictate that any substances being handled inside the hood remain at least six inches away from the user.
It Shields Their Face, Too
With some chemicals, such as strong acids or other corrosive substances, the primary threat isn’t the inhalation of fumes, but rather letting the substance come into contact with your bare skin. The area most at risk is the chemist’s face, as many of these substances are toxic if ingested or may cause blindness if they come into contact with the eyes. The clear sliding ‘sash’ of the fume hood keeps lab workers’ faces shielded from any and all harmful chemicals.
They’re An Important Element of Fire Safety
With so many potentially flammable or explosive chemicals around, maintaining fire safety in your laboratory requires constant vigilance. Fume hoods are one of the most crucial fire safety precautions for a lab because they shield workers from flames or small explosions while also keeping fires contained. This is why the best fume hoods have built-in fire detection and suppression systems to ensure that chemical fires don’t spread outside of the hood. Some models, for example, contain heat or smoke detectors that signal the release of powerful extinguishing agents when triggered.
In summary, fume hoods are an essential piece of equipment for maintaining a safe and productive laboratory. Without them, lab workers would have limited protection from fires, explosions, poisonous gases and corrosive chemicals, and performing daily tasks would become dangerous or even impossible. No matter what kind of lab you’re running, be sure to do a bit of research before purchasing the safest possible fume hood.