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Fume hoods are one of the most important tools for guarding indoor air quality when hazardous chemicals are in use- and for many businesses and educational institutions, the use of chemicals for manufacturing or laboratory tests is key to their ability to proceed with their operations. A fume hood is a tool that is able to prevent hazardous vapors and gases from escaping their work area, through a combination of suction and a barrier.

A fume hood certification can help to ensure that these key safety features are functioning as intended, and this is one of the services we offer at HVAC Engineering. The certification process involves both mechanical testing and an inspection of the work area, after which the technician may recommend changes or issue a certificate endorsing the safety of the fume hood setup for a given amount of time. Fume hood certifications are offered by the Environmental Health and Safety departments of many organizations, particularly at academic institutions. In addition, fume hood certification can be performed by private contractors. Some of the benefits of choosing a private contractor can include reduced wait times, the ability to focus on any specific concerns you may have, and availability outside of academic settings.

During a fume hood test, the inspector “measures fume hood face velocity (air intake), ensures a visual indicator is in place (indicator tape), that all chemicals are at least six inches inside the face of the hood, that the hood is not overly cluttered… and that all large items are elevated”. You may notice that the scope of this test comprises not only measuring equipment function, but also checking user adherence to certain safety standards. This is because even with a fume hood that is functioning perfectly, use patterns have the power to alter air suction to unsafe levels. Large, bulky items placed directly on the work surface can impede airflow, allowing hazardous vapors to settle instead of being suctioned out. Even small items can inhibit proper suction, if they are numerous enough or placed outside of the designated work zone. If user compliance with safety protocols is low, the solution is often simply better signage or brief training.

Many fume hoods are equipped with indicators to monitor the air intake (the suction of contaminated air), or at least to signify if it is within safe bounds. These indicators can be analog, such as a pressure gauge, or digital, such as a face velocity meter. Other models may simply have an alarm that is triggered when the air intake is below the minimum safety standard. A fume hood certification procedure can ensure that these indicators are in good working order, ensuring the safety of the environment around the work area.

A fume hood certification service can either avert potentially hazardous emergencies by detecting necessary repairs, or it can provide assurance that this key piece of safety equipment is functioning properly. Either way, this regular service is an invaluable part of maintaining a safe laboratory or manufacturing environment.

-Nicole P.

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