Chemical fume hoods are a staple in any laboratory that handles toxic and/or flammable chemicals. They are one of the main levels of protection for laboratory workers and are specifically designed to durably withstand strong chemicals. While there are different types of chemical fume hoods, they all work to effectively draw toxic air out of the environment.

When using a hood, make sure you understand the specific instructions for your hood so as to properly keep the working area safe. Be sure that you and anyone else who uses the hood is properly trained. All hoods should be certified every 12 months; if your hood has gone longer than 12 months since its last certification, you should refrain from using it and get it certified immediately.

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Some simple rules of thumb that are common to all hoods are to make sure the hood is on and that airflow is within the correct range. It’s also important to limit the amount of airflow around the outside of the hood, as open windows or even movement, such as walking, past the hood could cause an unwanted air current. Make sure you don’t clutter the hood or use it for storage, as this could also interfere with airflow. Only use the hood for its intended purpose. Some other safety precautions are to not place your head within the plane of the hood opening, and to always allow for good working visibility, whether you are working with a chemical fume hood or not.

Even though the hood works to eliminate toxins in the air, you must still take other precautions when working with hazardous materials around the hood. As all chemicals react and respond to stimuli differently, make sure you understand the properties of the chemical you will be working with. In addition, any time you are working in the lab, you should wear appropriate equipment to keep yourself safe.

If used properly, the hood is the most important line of defense for laboratory workers and toxic or flammable chemicals. By understanding the basics of how to properly operate your hood, you can help keep your laboratory safe.