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.
Asbestos is a mineral fiber and has been banned from many products and voluntarily removed from others, due to an acquired knowledge about the dangers of asbestos and the respiratory diseases and lung cancer that it can cause. Asbestos fibers can get into the air when an intact asbestos product is disturbed, and the fibers can lodge themselves permanently into the lungs. The EPA officially banned asbestos in 1989.
Health Issues Associated with Asbestos Include:
- Pleural plaques
- Scarring of lung tissue, also called asbestosis
- Lung cancer
- Stomach cancer
- Colon cancer
- Rectal cancer
- Vocal chord cancer
- Kidney cancer
People who have a history of exposure should know that smoking can increase your risk factors. If you work with a laboratory hood and are concerned that you may have been exposed to asbestos, you should consult with a medical professional.
If you are an employer who has a laboratory hood in your facility, and you are concerned about asbestos in your hood, you should contact a certified asbestos abatement contractor who can answer all of your questions and perform the necessary testing on your equipment.