Asbestos in Fume Hoods Exposure and Risks

Fume hoods were used across the country to help protect scientists and laboratory workers who were handling dangerous substances. Unfortunately, these fume hoods often contained asbestos, putting these people in danger of a whole new health risk.

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People working with or around dangerous substances have come to understand the serious need for protection. Laboratory chemical hoods are ventilated enclosures that extract or remove fumes from the building, keeping the air clean and ensuring nearby people are safe.

Industries have turned to these fume hoods to protect their workers and to minimize the risk of exposure to dangerous substances.

Asbestos in Fume Hoods Explained

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, older fume hoods pose a deadly health risk for the same people they were meant to protect.

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Asbestos Added to Fume Hoods for Safety

Asbestos was a common material used in fume hoods because of its fireproof, heatproof and water-resistant qualities. Asbestos was used in transite liners, shelves and fume pipes and helped prevent accidents from occurring by quickly eliminating flames and containing excessive heat.

These qualities supplemented chemical ventilation well, providing a seemingly safer working environment.  Unfortunately, asbestos fibers can become airborne and inhaled by people nearby, potentially causing asbestosis or mesothelioma—an aggressive form of cancer with a high fatality rate.

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Exposure to asbestos has led to thousands of mesothelioma diagnoses. If you’ve been diagnosed with mesothelioma, the Mesothelioma Justice Guide will help you understand your rights and know the next steps.

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Who Was Exposed to Asbestos in Fume Hoods?

Scientists and chemical plant workers are at risk of being exposed to asbestos in fume foods, in addition to anyone who worked in an area that was connected to the same ventilation system.

Asbestos within fume hoods breaks down over time and these broken down fibers can easily become airborne. Once airborne, asbestos fibers can be transported through the fume hood systems, projected into the air, and eventually inhaled by anyone nearby.

The more often a person worked with asbestos fume hoods, the more likely they were exposed to asbestos. In fact, many different groups of people may have been exposed to asbestos because of fume hoods, including:

  • Scientists
  • Laboratory Workers
  • Janitors and Cleaners
  • Maintenance Workers
  • Fume Hood Manufacturers
  • Laboratory Installers
  • Admin Staff
  • Family Members

Although modern fume hoods no longer use asbestos, older laboratories with outdated facilities or equipment may still have an asbestos fume hood or other asbestos-laden materials.

Once discovered, all asbestos-containing laboratory equipment should be replaced immediately. Scientists and workers who must use a lab contaminated with asbestos should limit their exposure as much as possible, wear proper respiratory equipment at all times, and leave lab coats, gloves and clothing in a containment area.

Health Risks of Asbestos in Fume Hoods

Asbestos is scientifically linked to serious health conditions, including asbestosis and mesothelioma. Mesothelioma is an aggressive form of cancer that has a low survival rate, as most people diagnosed with the disease are already in the latest stages.

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How Asbestos Causes Mesothelioma

Mesothelioma forms when asbestos fibers are inhaled and become lodged in the lining of the abdomen, lungs or heart. Over time, lodged asbestos fibers can cause healthy cells to mutate into mesothelioma cancer cells. As they multiply, mesothelioma cells form tumor masses, which spread to distant sites.

Mesothelioma is challenging to diagnose as the cell mutations are almost impossible to detect until later stages. Mesothelioma can take 10 to 50 years to develop before severe symptoms such as difficulty breathing and chronic coughing present themselves.

People who worked with asbestos fume hoods prior to the mid-1980s may still be diagnosed with mesothelioma in the years to come.

Access Asbestos Trust Funds

Compensation for treatment, loss of income and other damages is available through Asbestos Trust Funds. Workers with mesothelioma and other asbestos-related illnesses may qualify.

Find Out If You Qualify

Seeking Justice for Asbestos Exposure

Many victims have developed mesothelioma because of their work in laboratories containing asbestos fume hoods. These mesothelioma victims incur expenses and costs due to their unfair exposure to asbestos, causing additional hardship and stress.

Victims who were wrongly exposed may qualify for financial compensation, which can help cover medical costs and reduce the burden.

If you previously worked with one of these fume hoods and have since been diagnosed with mesothelioma, contact our Justice Support Team. Call us at (888) 360-4215 or request our FREE Mesothelioma Justice Guide to understand your next steps as a mesothelioma victim.

Mesothelioma Support Team
Stephanie KiddWritten by:


Stephanie Kidd works tirelessly as a dedicated advocate for the vulnerable and underrepresented. Stephanie worked as a copywriter for an agency whose focus was communicating safety procedures on construction work sites. With her extensive background in victim advocacy and a dedication to seeing justice done, Stephanie works hard to ensure that all online content is reliable, truthful and helpful.

View 4 Sources
  1. ASU Department of Environmental Health & Safety, “Standard Operating Procedure: Asbestos,” Retrieved from Accessed on June 26, 2018.
  2. University of Washington: Environmental Health & Safety, “Fume Hoods: Use, Inspection and Maintenance,” Retrieved from Accessed on June 26, 2018.
  3. University of South Florida, “Asbestos Exposure in the Laboratory,” Retrieved from Accessed on June 26, 2018.
  4. University of Florida Department of Health & Safety, “Chemical Fume Hoods,” Retrieved from Accessed on June 26, 2018.
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