Chemical Fume Hood Use Procedures

Chemical fume hoods are the primary engineering control in most laboratories, and in many ways are the “first line of defense” against exposure to hazardous chemicals.  Environmental Health & Safety (EH&S) personnel inspect and certify chemical fume hoods at least once annually. 

Laboratory personnel may request more frequent performance checks, particularly after the hood’s fan/motor is serviced or following other maintenance activities in a building. For ad-hoc inspections, call EH&S at (212) 854-8749 (MS/MV) or (212) 305-6780 (CUIMC).

Guidelines for Safe Use of Chemical Fume Hoods

1. Before using a chemical fume hood, become familiar with the locations of the nearest exit, emergency shower, eye-wash station, and fire extinguisher. Ensure emergency equipment remains unobstructed at all times.

2. Wear personal protective equipment (e.g. goggles, gloves, and laboratory coats). Chemical fume hoods are by no means a replacement for PPE and good laboratory practices.

3. Good housekeeping is important inside chemical fume hoods. Keep chemicals at least six inches behind the sash opening to avoid obstructing the linear flow of air.

4. Properly capped chemical containers do not need to be stored inside chemical fume hoods.

5. Opening or closing doors or windows, or a person moving quickly across in front of the chemical fume hood might create sufficient current to momentarily interrupt the linear airflow of the chemical fume, resulting in potential chemical exposure to laboratory occupants.

6. Keep the chemical fume hood uncluttered; the more cluttered a chemical fume hood, the more airflow disturbances may interfere with operation of the hood. Storage of materials/equipment in the chemical fume hood should be kept to a minimum.

7. Where open flame is used, no flammable liquids may be kept in the chemical fume hood. Flammable liquids should be stored in a cabinet or other safe location when not in immediate use.

8. The vertical sliding sash serves as a physical barrier in the event of chemical splashes within the chemical fume hood. The sash should be kept below eye level, with an opening no higher than 18 inches to protect the user in the event that hazardous materials escape the chemical fume hood. A yellow tag issued by EH&S indicates the height of the sash opening where a face velocity of 80-120 fpm is achieved.

Sash image

9. Keep your head outside of the chemical fume hood at all times. Keep the sash closed when the chemical fume hood is not attended to conserve energy and in case of chemical reactions inside the fume hood.

10. Work surface of the chemical fume hood should be thoroughly cleaned after completion of all experiments and immediately following use of any chemicals.

11. Remain alert to changes in airflow and be familiar with appropriate emergency procedures in the event of chemical fume hood failure. Report chemical fume hood failure to the laboratory supervisor and/or Facilities for repair.

Contact Information

Depending on the issue, lab personnel can contact the following department(s) for assistance with fume hoods:

For chemical fume hood certification (annually or after repairs) or to have a chemical fume hood inspected for proper function:

  • Morningside Campus – call EH&S at (212) 854-8749
  • Medical Center Campus – call EH&S at (212) 305-6780
  • Manhattanville Campus – call EH&S at (212) 853-1168

For a chemical fume hood service, repairs, or repair status:

  • Morningside Campus – call Facilities at (212) 854-2222
  • Medical Center Campus –
  • Manhattanville Campus – call Facilities at (212) 854-2222

Laboratory personnel can forward their Facilities Work Order to EH&S at [email protected] for following up and recertification.