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Chemical Fume Hoods & Biosafety Cabinets

Chemical fume hoods and biosafety cabinets are crirtcal peices of equipment that mitigate exposures to hazardous materials in labs at UMass Dartmouth. By utilizing chemical fume hoods or biosafety cabinets, researchers will greatly minimize inhalation, skin absorption, or ingestion hazards related to certain hazardous materials. Although they may look similar, laboratory chemical fume hoods and biosafety cabinets are designed and function very differently and must be used appropriately to ensure user protection. 

Example Chemical Fume Hood seen in a lab at UMass Dartmouth. Certification tag is located to the left of the sash. 

Chemical Fume Hoods 

  • Do not use if hood has not been certified and calibrated. See label near front of sash for certification and calibration date.
  • Conduct all work and keep items at least 6 inches back from the face of the hood. 
  • Keep the hood sash (door) closed as much as possible.
  • Keep the hood slots and baffles free of obstruction by apparatus or containers.
  • Chemicals cannot be permanently stored in the hood. Large equipment that must remain inside the hood should be placed on blocks to allow for airflow under the equipment. 
  • Do not put your head or limbs in the hood when contaminants are being generated.
  • Do not use the hood as a waste disposal tactic. Solvents and other chemicals cannot be evaported, lids must remain on containers.
  • Do not make fast movements when taking items in and out of the hood and minimize foot traffic. 
  • Keep laboratory doors closed.
  • Do not remove hood sash or sash panels.
  • No permanent electrical receptacles are allwed within the hood.


Example Biosafety Cabinet seen in a lab at UMass Dartmouth. Certification tag is located to the top left of the sash. 

Biosafety Cabinets

  • Gather all necessary materials including PPE and waste disposal containers. Plan the steps of your experiment in a logical manner that prevents excessive movements in and out of the cabinet.

  • Turn on the BSC and make sure the it runs for at least 15 minutes prior to starting work. The startup cylce will purge the cabinet of any particulates before you begin working. Ensure the certification tag is visible and compliant.

  • Disinfect the work surface before use. Use a disinfectant appropriate for the work being conducted.

  • Line the BSC surface with plastic-backed absorbent towels. Place your supplies as far back from the sash as possible within the cabinet. All experiments should be performed on the BSC surface at least four inches from the inside edge of the front grill.

  • Work from clean to dirty. Organize your supplies so that you can seperate your work from the clean side of the cabinet to the dirty side. Avoid moving dirty items over clean ones to prevent cross-contamination. 

  • Protect the vacuum lines. If you will be using a vacuum, be sure to use a HEPA filter and in-line disinfectant flasks to protect your vacuum system from contamination. In-line flasks will catch any overflow, while the HEPA filter will prevent aerosols and particulates from entering the vacuum system.

  • Collect the waste materials. Waste materials should be collected inside the cabinet. Repeatedly moving arms in and out of the cabinet to deposit waste in a container outside the BSC will compromise the air flow and containment provided by the BSC. Ensure to sure to seal bags and cover open containers before removing them from the cabinet.

  • Clean when finished. Wipe down all materials with an appropriate disinfectant before removing from the BSC. After the cabinet is emptied, wipe down the interior cabinet surfaces with the disinfectant. Allow the BSC to run for 15 minutes before turning it off.


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