Those working with or around dangerous substances have come to understand the serious need for protection. Industries have turned to fume hoods to protect their workers and to minimize the risk of exposure to dangerous substances. Laboratory fume hoods are the first defense to minimize chemical exposure to research workers. They are considered the primary means of protection from inhalation of hazardous vapors. However, on old fume hoods, vent pipes usually contained asbestos.
Dangerous fume hoods
Laboratory chemical hoods (or fume hoods), the most important engineering components for protecting laboratory workers from chemical exposures, may contain asbestos. Any fume-hood liner, shelf, etc., made from transite/cement board can contain asbestos, putting workers at risk.
Laboratory chemical hoods are ventilated enclosures that extract or remove fumes from the building. There are ducted and non-ducted hoods, detachable hoods, ceiling hoods and other hoods customized to meet the needs of an organization. The ducted fume hoods connect to the building’s exterior, so contaminants are pulled out of the building. Ducted hoods are considered the safest for the worker and the easiest to maintain for the employer, but despite measures taken to protect the employee, the biggest health concern comes from the product itself.
As science has discovered the deadly dangers of asbestos, fume hoods and other products once manufactured containing asbestos are no longer being sold. That’s fortunate for new buildings, but the problem is that many buildings still contain asbestos and fume hoods with asbestos in them. The fact that asbestos fume hoods have been used in air delivery systems is an awful reality for those who have been around them. Breathing in the fibers and being exposed to airborne asbestos has led many down the path to mesothelioma, a rare type of cancer caused only by asbestos.
Between 1900-1970s, asbestos was widely used for thermal and acoustical insulation, fire-proofing, roofing and pipe insulation. Many schools and other older buildings still contain asbestos. Anyone who has ever worked around fume hoods, whether they be manufacturers, scientists, students or other personnel, should be tested. If you’ve already been diagnosed with mesothelioma and know you can trace it back to having worked with fume hoods, it is important to get litigation help immediately.
Properly checking for efficiency of fume hoods
For fume hoods to be efficient, they must be used properly. The fume hood velocity should be checked at least annually to verify proper flow rate across the face. There should be a sticker on the side of the fume hood that indicates the maximum operating sash height with a date of the last inspection.
Because the primary function of a fume hood is to protect those working around hazardous materials, proper maintenance and annual inspections are important. If you or someone you know is still working in or around an old fume hood, get help immediately. Minimize exposure to ALL asbestos, including those found in the old fume hoods.