The best fume hood in the world does nothing until it is connected to a properly designed Laboratory ventilation system. These systems are very complex. So to know if a hood is working properly we have to look at it from a holistic point of view. We have to test all the components to verify that they are performing as specified. this is surprising that on a global basis, even in Europe and the US, many hoods are not performing safely. But the only way to know for sure is to test the hoods in the lab where they are installed.
Estimates vary dramatically regarding the number of installed hoods that are not functioning at a safe level. On a global basis, everyone agrees that 30% are failing to provide the safety intended and expected. But estimates also suggest that the true number could be between 50% and 70%. Given that the number of installed hoods worldwide is estimated to exceed 2 million, this means that a lot of people are being exposed to unsafe and unhealthy conditions.
There are four main reasons for hoods not to perform safely:
- Poorly designed fume hood
- Poorly designed lab space
- Poorly designed or poorly maintained Laboratory Ventilation System
- User Work Practices
Due to the many variables, the only way to know if your hood works safely is to test it.
On a worldwide basis there are a number of testing standards. Each company that sells hoods will tell you that their hoods perform well according to ASHRAE 110 or EN 14175 or some other test standard. But the reality is that these tests are usually done in test labs with near perfect conditions. So this test is just confirming that the fume hood is well designed, but that is not an indication of how that hood will perform in your lab. Each lab is different as is each Laboratory Ventilation System.
The only way to know that your fume hoods are safe is to test them.
So what happens when a fume hood isn’t working? The purpose of a fume hood is to capture, contain, dilute, and exhaust contaminants from inside the hood to the outside. When it isn’t working properly, there is a loss of containment. That means that the contaminants in the hood escape into the lab. This can be unhealthy and even dangerous.
The ASHRAE 110 tests uses a number of tests to see if there is leakage back into the room. So if there are problems, these tests will let you know.
So if you smell chemicals in your lab or suspect you have problems, you owe it to yourself to test.
Contact us for more details on how our programs can help you be safe.