Evolution of Fume Hoods

 A fume hood is an essential piece of equipment found in almost all laboratories, from teaching labs to research labs to industrial labs. The fume hood limits exposure to hazardous or noxious fumes, vapors or dusts by safely removing these substances from the immediate working environment. The fume hood also serves to protect the sample from the external environment.

Fume hoods may either be ducted or recirculating. Both types operate by allowing air to be drawn in from the front (open) side of the cabinet, and either expelled outside the building or made safe through filtration and recirculated back into the room.

The history of fume hoods can be traced back to the days when Thomas Edison used his fireplace chimney to exhaust fumes from his laboratory.

Early twentieth century – the origins of fume hoods

Working in around 1900, Thomas Edison seems to have been one of the first scientists to be concerned about laboratory ventilation. Edison used the fireplace chimney in his lab to exhaust noxious fumes and odors from his experiments into heated rubber compounds, using the natural draft of the chimney to expel the gases.

In 1923, one of the first recognizable fume hoods in the modern sense of the word was in use at the University of Leeds. This unit consisted of a large cupboard standing at working height and incorporating vertical rising sashes arranged like parallel windows.

In 1936, Labconco, one of the pioneering manufacturers of fume hoods, developed its first fume hood for sale commercially. This unit incorporated the now-familiar sash fronted design, allowing a single operator to work safely by placing his hands within the "cabinet."

Read more at Lab Manager Magazine