Safe Use of Fume Hoods and Laboratory Ventilation Equipment

Before using a fume hood you should:

  • Make sure that the exhaust blower is operating and air is entering into the fume hood or ventilation equipment. Check the magnehelic gauge or audible/visual (AV) alarm. The magnehelic gauge should register 0.1 inches of water or slightly higher. The AV alarm should not indicate any problems.
    • A qualitative fume hood check can also be accomplished by taking a small strip of Kim-Wipe and place it near the opening. If the fume hood is operating properly the tissue should be drawn inward. If the strip of tissue is not drawn inward, please notify Facilities at x1141 or Environmental Health & Safety (EHS) at x8475.
  • Do not place your face inside of a unit. Keep your hands out as much as possible.
  • Do not store chemicals or equipment inside your fume hood if they are not needed for the current experiment or process.
  • Clean up spills as soon as possible. Periodically clean the interior areas of your fume hood. Use a neutral cleaner such as Simple Green and dispose of contaminated wipes and paper towels as solid chemical waste.
  • The hood or ventilation equipment should be in continuous operation if any volatile, toxic or corrosive materials are stored or used in the unit.
  • Avoid blocking off the baffle exhaust slots located in back of the fume hood. Elevate large equipment 2 inches off the surface or base of the fume hood.
  • Be aware of other room ventilation factors that may interfere with the unit's operation. Opened doors, windows, blocked exhaust ports or heating and air conditioning vents can negatively impact fume hood/ventilation equipment performance.
  • Avoid cross drafts and disruptive air currents in front of the fume hood.
  • Use your fume hood sash as a safety shield when working in a fume hood. Work with the sash at the proper level as indicated by the certification sticker placed on the fume hood.
  • Never work in a fume hood with a broken sash. Never attempt to lower a fume hood sash that has been broken, instead contact Facilities at x1141 (or or EHS to have the sash repaired.
  • Prepare a plan of action in case of an emergency, such as a power failure. Your plan should include what actions are to be taken to make the operation and materials in the unit safe.
  • Know where your fire extinguisher is located. Verify that it is approved for the materials being used. Contact EHS to receive fire extinguisher training. Dial 911 on the Newark campus or 9-911 on the Lewes, Georgetown and Wilmington campuses should an emergency occur.
  • Periodically check for proper airflow through the unit by checking the magnehelic, AV alarm or using the Kim-Wipe method.

Questions or requests for more information may be addressed to James Farley or call 831-6566.