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 they are performing as specified. Surprisingly 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.
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 use 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.
If you smell chemicals in your lab or suspect you have problems, you owe it to yourself to test.