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Fume Hood

Hi I'm Jill Chief Safety Officer with Vivid learning Systems. I'm a former OSHA inspector and I'm here to help you identify and correct workplace safety hazards.

For this series we're at the University of Louisville in beautiful Kentucky to show you no matter where you work, safety is for everyone.

Now we've moved on to another kind of ventilation device here at the lab and this one is called a fume hood. Rachel can you describe to us what makes a fume hoods was so special what does it do?

Sure, well fume hood is also called a chemical hood sometimes because we use it to work with potentially hazardous chemicals. It's again gonna provide air flow to protect the worker similar to the other hoods that we work with except this time the air flow is not going to be HEPA filter it's simply going to be drawed from the room or drawn from the room into the cabinet and exhausted out of the building. Okay we're moving any potential volatile or odorous chemicals that might be in use in the cabinet so there isn't a filter like a HEPA filter like some of the others we've talked. Correct and one advantage of not having a HEPA filter is that we can use this for working with flammables. So this is an area where we could have an open flame whereas you wouldn't want to do that in any type of hood or a ventilation device that has a HEPA filter because it could compromise your filter.

Okay very good, that makes sense can you explain to us how a fume hood protects the worker? This type of hood protects the employee from, again hazardous chemicals that you could potentially inhale or that could ignite and therefore everything is being kept away from the worker and similar to the biosafety cabinet and the other hoods the sash level is important here not as important but the lower the sash the mark the more protection. Okay and the easier it's gonna be for the cabinet to draw the proper airflow that it needs.

Sure, can you talk about what some unsafe work practices would be like things you don't want to do in a fume hood? Sure it's similar to the others one of the biggest problems we see is excess storage so the hood that we're looking at now is very nice and clean and organized. Many labs use this space to store their chemical waste which is a fine practice as long as the waste is kept segregated so that no incompatible chemicals are stored near each other. We also ask that any containers be labeled and that they have a lid that screws on tight and that any weight chemical waste is removed before it accumulate.

And one of the things that I noticed you have this little tiny piece of tape here or a ribbon tell us about why is this here. It's just kind of a common practice? Yeah we put this on all of our fume hoods at our University and it's just a nice visual indicator that airflow is working so if you come over to do an experiment in the fume hood and you notice that this is just dangling straight down you may want to call and have your airflow checked or some sort of repair work done. You want to see it being pulled into the end of the hood.

And so what sort of personal protective equipment do employees need to consider when working in a fume hood? Sorry and that's going to be very dependent on what we doing. Again we like for all of our personnel to wear lab coat and gloves at the minimum. If you are working with something like mercury for example you want to make sure that you're using nitrile gloves as opposed to latex if you're working with something that could splash you might want to put on fluid impervious gown or wear some sort of additional layer of face or eye protection.

What are the special cleaning considerations you need to take with a fume hood? What's the proper way to clean that? With this chemical fume hood we're not working with biologicals so there's not as stringent of disinfection steps that are required for work in here, but you do want to keep the space clean. You don't want to have chemicals spilled on your work area obviously and again you don't want to accumulate too much stuff. All right very good.

So I think it's an opportunity to move on to the next type of ventilation device used in labs.

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Safety is everyone's business.