A fume hood or fume cupboard is a type of local ventilation device that is designed to limit exposure to hazardous or toxic fumes, vapors or dusts. A fume hood is typically a large piece of equipment enclosing five sides of a work area, the bottom of which is most commonly located at a standing work height.
All local ventilation devices are designed to address one or more of three primary goals:
• to protect the user from inhaling toxic gases (fume hoods, biosafety cabinets, glove boxes);
• to protect the product or experiment (biosafety cabinets, glove boxes);
• to protect the environment (recirculating fume hoods, certain biosafety cabinets, and any other type when fitted with appropriate filters in the exhaust airstream).
Fume hoods typically protect only the user, and are most commonly used in laboratories where hazardous or noxious chemicals are released during testing, research, development or teaching. They are also used in industrial applications or other activities where hazardous or noxious vapors, gases or dusts are generated or released.
Because one side (the front) of a fume hood is open to the room occupied by the user, and the air within the fume hood is potentially contaminated, the proper flow of air from the room into the hood is critical to its function. Much of fume hood design and operation is focused on maximizing the proper containment of the air and fumes within the fume hood.
As most fume hoods are designed to connect to exhaust systems that expel the air directly to the exterior of a building, large quantities of energy are required to run fans that exhaust the air, and to heat, cool, filter, control and move the air that will replace the air exhausted. Significant recent efforts in fume hood and ventilation system design have focused on reducing the energy used to operate fume hoods and their supporting ventilation systems.