Technical Topics - Laboratory Ventilation

Prudent Practices in the Laboratory: Handling and Management of Chemical Hazards, Updated Version (2011): Chapter 9, Sections C through H, provides a solid overview of laboratory ventilation topics. This text may be downloaded free of charge.



  • Labs21: The Labs21 program, cosponsored by the EPA and DOE, embraces a variety of energy conservation strategies for laboratories, including relating to laboratory ventilation.

  • Low Flow HoodsThe major players in low flow hoods are Lab Crafters with the Air Sentry Hood,Fisher-Hamilton's Concept 2000, and Kewaunee’s Dynamic Barrier Hood. Lower flowrates are achieved by sash restrictions and supposed improved aerodynamic design that allows for lower face velocities. Several prototypes are under development that use a supply air curtain at the hood face to either improve capture or decrease hood flow, such as the Berkeley Lab High-Performance Fume Hood.

  • Variable Air Volume: Equipment (VAV) for lab hoods: This is a  complex technical area requiring careful system design and operation by experienced professionals to ensure safety while addressing energy conservation considerations. Prudent Practices is a good place to start. For historical perspective, refer to the set of three articles that were published in the ACS Journal of Chemical Health and Safety in the March/April 1996 issue, one by Gordan Sharp, one by Jerry Konigsberg, and a reconciliation article by Lou DiBerardinis. To get reprints please contact Elsevier Book & Journal support via their webform.




  • ANSI/AIHA/ASSE Z9.5-2012 Laboratory Ventilation:   This greatly expanded Standard, first published in 1992, includes chapters onperformance tests, air cleaning, preventative maintenance, and work practices, as well as five appendices such as "Selecting Laboratory Stack Designs" and an audit form. Available from on the AIHA Marketplace or ph:(703) 849-8888 to order this 130-page book.

  • International Mechanical Code  - established by the International Code Council is increasingly being used in the United States (status of code adoption by state). The International Code Council (ICC) was established in 1994 as a nonprofit organization dedicated to developing a single set of comprehensive and coordinated national model construction codes. The founders of the ICC are Building Officials and Code Administrators International, Inc. (BOCA), International Conference of Building Officials (ICBO), and Southern Building Code Congress International, Inc. (SBCCI). Since the early part of the last century, these nonprofit organizations developed the three separate sets of model codes used throughout the United States. The International Codes were created due to the disparity in the model codes in use in the U.S. In the past, it was difficult for building industry professionals to move into different regions within the U.S., much less into an international environment.

  • OSHA 1910.1450 - Occupational Exposure to Hazardous Chemicals in Laboratories, requires that the written chemical hygiene plan address measures to ensure proper functioning of fume hoods and other protective equipment.The nonmandatory appendix provides brief guidance on laboratory ventilation, which is based on the 2011 revision to Prudent Practices.

  • ASHRAE 110-1995 Method of Testing the Performance of Laboratory Hoods- Can be ordered through the ASHRAE online bookstore.    Currently being revised with Gary Knutson as Chair. Don't wait for the new version,   it may take several years. Issues being looked at are dynamic testing, breathing zone height, and correlation with exposure. Alternative tracer gases are also under study, due to the concern that sulfur hexafluoride has a global warming potential 23,900 times greater than carbon dioxide. The standard also includes smoke visualization testing, which can be conducted prior to the tracer gas testing to reduce the use of tracer gas in the event that a hood fails the smoke pattern test.

  • ACGIH Industrial Ventilation: a Manual of Recommended Practice for Design, 28th Edition, 2013. Information on supply air effects, recommended face velocities, work practices, perchloric acid hoods, and biological safety cabinets.

  • Scientific Equipment and Furniture Association (SEFA)  Click on “member products” and you will get a list of fume hood manufacturers and other ventilated lab equipment. Click on “recommended practices” to order a copy of  their standard on Laboratory Fume Hoods/Recommended Practice. This standard (SEFA 1 2010[KKC10] . This is a trade association so you are hearing mostly from hood manufacturers. Nevertheless, it is a good place to start if you are just learning.

  • NFPA 45 - Standard on Fire Protection for Laboratories Using Chemicals, 2011 edition, Chapter 6 is titled Laboratory Ventilating Systems and Hood Requirements. Order from

  • NSF 49 – This is the National Sanitation Foundation Standard on certification of Biosafety cabinets. NSF also has a program for accreditation of cabinet certifiers who perform the field certification tests on installed biosafety cabinets.