How Do You Know When to Upgrade Your Fume Hood?

Older lab equipment doesn’t last forever. Equipment typically gets replaced every now and then or when something breaks. It’s easy to look at a big machine or a counter top and think it was built like a truck, but this is erroneous and dangerous, especially when it comes to fume hoods. A recent survey of laboratories showed that roughly one-fifth of them were going to replace their fume hood; a whopping one-third of those replacements were due to old age! If you’ve recently completed a safety checklist but aren’t sure if the issues you found require the equipment to be replaced, use this guide to keep your lab safe.

Failed Safety Tests

Upgrading your custom fume hood isn’t just about getting a new shiny piece of equipment. It’s all about keeping you safe. The moment you realize your fume hood isn’t doing enough to keep you safe is when you should look into a replacement.

A big red flag is if your hood fails to pass its annual filtration test but the filters are new or in good condition. This sometimes happens due to other variables, but, more than likely, it’s your 30-year-old fume hood breaking down. The fact of the matter is that older fume hoods don’t have the technological or safety features modern-day hoods have.

Material Degradation

Material degradation is another reason to replace a fume hood. Obvious signs of this include discoloration of the material inside the hood, etches or scratches, or fogging of the windows that can’t be (or isn’t easily) cleaned off.

If the interior doesn’t physically look like it’s made of one material throughout, then its structure may be weakened and becoming unsafe. This can get bad enough to the point where the internal parts of the hood start degrading and corroding.

One sign of this is a loud fan that makes noises or inconsistent spinning speeds. These signs are due to prolonged exposure to chemicals, in general, or an exposure to a wide variety of chemicals that older hoods were not designed to handle.

Old Age

Replacing something by virtue of its being old may seem like an unimportant condition and a bit like excessive spending, but it’s important to note how much technology has changed over the last few decades. Older fume hoods don’t keep pace with newer chemical applications.

Laboratory space is at a premium; you may need more time or space with your fume hood than you can feasibly get with your current setup. If you’ve hired on more staff or are running more experiments, the hoods you have may not be able to keep up.

Older hood hardware can be an issue, too. It may be too expensive to upgrade, too difficult to adjust, or simply impossible to bring up to code. It will degrade faster if you’re using the hood with chemicals it wasn’t designed for. Using these chemicals can create buildup on the viewing glass, scratch and corrode the interior, and corrode the internal parts of the hood and ducts.

Material Degradation

This can all lead to the hood not working as intended or potentially breaking completely in the middle of an experiment.

Need to replace your fume hood? Genie Scientific offers a broad range of hoods to serve many laboratory needs. Shop for parts, hoods, supplies, and more right from your laboratory, now, by browsing our extensive catalog located on our website.

5 Lab Safety Tips for Fume Hoods

Knowing how to use a fume hood can be elusive, especially if you’re shopping for a fume hood for the first time. Despite their usefulness in a laboratory setting, many labs use them incorrectly even when installed. Poorly or incorrectly installed hoods won’t just perform incorrectly, they can be a safety risk, too. Understand that it is mandatory to have a fume hood safety checklist nearby at all times when using a fume hood. The 5-minute safety inspection should take place before using the hood every single time, no matter what the experiment. However, these checklists can be out of date or convoluted, and they may be full of technical jargon that isn’t clearly explained to entry-level technicians. Use this fume hood safety checklist to keep your laboratory safe.

Basic Safety Tips

First and foremost are some basic safety tips about the machine itself. Make sure your fume hood is tested and maintained regularly. Keep the fume hood safety checklist nearby at all times—it’s best hung on a wall nearby rather than stashed in a drawer. Keep all appropriate lab equipment close to the fume hood and easy to access (i.e., not behind locked drawers).

Be vigilant about looking for defects or potential malfunctions. Make it easy for technicians to report these issues to upper management as they occur. If it takes your technician an hour to contact a repair specialist, you likely have a problem with your maintenance process that needs to be addressed.

Finally, check to see if your hood’s flow indicator is in place and working properly to detect the airflow inside. If it’s not, don’t utilize the hood until the problem is resolved.

Airflow Tips

Airflow is how a fume hood keeps you safe. Without it, chemical fumes and gases will build up and can make your technicians extremely sick. Depending on the gas, it could even cause fatalities or explosions. Make sure that the airflow of the room and the hood’s immediate surroundings are being properly channeled before using it each and every time.

Check to see if all windows and doors in the lab are closed. Turn off or remove any fans within the room. Pointing a fan in the direction of the fume hood may redirect the air to flow outside of it and directly into your face. Finally, make sure there is nothing in the fume hood itself that is blocking air flow through the baffles in the back.

Vapors and Gases

Vapors take some time to properly disperse into their surroundings. Keep all work materials and chemicals at least 6 inches away from you while they are inside the hood. This will give enough room to create a strong enough air current to protect you and any other team members that are working with you.

Note that fume hoods are not designed to protect you from explosions, so extra caution should be taken with any inflammatory substances. Some of the vapors may dissipate through your flame hood—but don’t forget that your arms and the rest of the lab are still vulnerable through the small opening in the front. Make sure you know what you are working with and what to do if an accident happens.


Not all fume hoods are certified to handle every chemical. There should be a label somewhere on the hood informing you what types of chemicals and reactions it is capable of handling; use this information to guide your fume hood use daily. Never assume that a high-quality hood can handle other substances just because it works well—this is a laboratory cardinal sin.

Common chemicals that many hoods can’t handle include:

• Perchloric acid • Radioactive isotopes • Certain other volatile gases

Reactions that involve a high amount of pressure are typically not supported by the average fume hood, either. For experiments like these, custom fume hoods may be best.


You’ll find a marker on the side of your fume hood that indicates fume hood sash height requirements. Do what you can to work at or below that marker to maximize airflow and safety. Many sashes have mechanics that limit how high or low the sash can go; never tamper with the mechanics to force a hood to work, as it may break the sash entirely.

Ensure that the window of the hood is clean and easy to see through before using. Don’t add any stickers or labels of your own or write on the window with markers, and don’t place anything on the sash unless indicated by your laboratory. Even a small obstruction can be an annoyance or a source of danger if it’s in the wrong spot.

Shop now for custom fume hoods, fume hood sashes, and other laboratory-certified products. Genie Scientific has the knowledge and reliability needed to help you achieve your experimentation goals safely, reliably, and effectively with as little risk as possible.

Things to Consider When Purchasing Lab Furniture and Equipment

There are several different things you need to consider when you are purchasing lab furniture and equipment for a new or existing lab. Unlike traditional office-type furniture and equipment, which is not resistant to chemicals, spills, and other materials you use in a lab environment, the furniture and equipment you select will need to be durable and meet the demands of your type of work. Aside from the various demands the equipment and furniture will have to withstand, the next things to consider are both your current and future needs. Just because you are doing one type of work today, this does not mean your lab’s objectives and work will not change in the future. Take a moment to brainstorm with your staff to consider the potential future needs so you select the most appropriate pieces.

Now that you have a general idea of your current and future equipment and furniture needs, you are ready for the next step: deciding how the furniture and equipment are going to fit into the space you have available. It would be unfortunate to order and install a huge lab workbench and not have room for other vital equipment and furniture.

The best way to ensure all of the new equipment and furniture will fit correctly is take measurements. A good rule of thumb is to measure everything twice and have someone also take the measurements twice to guarantee they are correct. Even being off an inch or two could affect the whole layout of the lab and how pieces are going to fit.

Secondary Considerations

In addition to the above, there are several other specific and secondary considerations you should take into account, as follows:

•    Aesthetics – The general appearance of the lab is sometimes important in certain environments, so you will want the pieces to complement each other and not look out of place. •    Warranty – Ask the manufacturer or supplier to provide you with a copy of the warranty terms and conditions ahead of time so you can understand what is covered, what will void the warranty, and other such details. •    Ergonomics – You need to verify the equipment and furniture provide good ergonomics for your employees. You do not want them hunched over a table or not be able to sit or stand correctly, as this can lead to accidents and injuries. •    Unique Uses – Are there any special functions the equipment or furniture will need to provide which could be of benefit to your lab? For instance, pullout drawers or shelves underneath a lab table could be beneficial and provide extra storage areas and work surface extensions. •    Price – Price should never be your first consideration. If you are only replacing a few pieces, then the price is not always a big concern. On the other hand, for entire lab setups, then prices should be considered, using various analysis tools like the return on investment, the total cost of ownership, and the total benefits of ownership.

For assistance in selecting the right furniture and equipment for your lab, lab planning, and installation, please feel free to call Genie Scientific at 800-545-8816 today!

Airflow Requirements for Laboratories

Part of lab planning and design is including the proper equipment, hoods, tables, benches, cabinets, and other such items that will be needed to perform the desired work. Whether you are part of the design team or leading the project, one rather important aspect you need to remember is the lab will have to meet various state and federal regulations and requirements. It is important to find out what these are for your type of lab environment to ensure it is designed correctly with sufficient ventilation and plenty of vent/exhaust hoods. Unfortunately, each regulatory agency has their own recommendations, requirements, or regulations depending on the specifics of the environment. In regards to air changes per hour (ACH), which is the number of times per hour the air in the entire lab is replaced with fresh air, they vary from one agency to the next.

American National Standards Institute/American Industrial Hygiene Association (ANSI/AIHA)

This agency does not have a specific requirement for airflows, but rather a generalized recommendation, which is between 4 ACH and 10 ACH, based upon the needs of the lab environment. ANSI/AIHA does not provide any strict requirements for airflow because the standards and conditions of each lab can and does vary, so each lab must determine the appropriate design for proper ventilation.

U.S. National Fire Protection Association (NFPA)

The only standard requirement this agency prescribes is in cases where chemicals are present. The standard simply states exhaust, fume, and vent hoods will be run continuously while chemicals are present.

Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA)

OSHA also has a broad recommendation for airflow rates that range from 4 ACH to 12 ACH and only provides a generalized recommendation on adequate airflow rates. Their recommendation does mention that ventilation should not be solely relied upon for protection when working with toxic substances being released into the lab’s air.

American Society of Heating, Refrigerating, and Air Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE)

This agency is the one most people refer to when establishing standards for proper ventilation and indoor air quality. When it comes to labs, there is some ambiguity about the recommended ACH. For instance, the recommendation refers to “educational science labs” but not laboratory work environments.

Previously, there were two different listings, one for science labs and another for educational facilities. Currently, the recommend ACH for educational science labs is 1.2 ACH. In the previous versions, from 2006 and earlier, the recommend airflow rate for science labs was 6 ACH.

AHRAE also publishes specific books that are used by the HVAC industry. Within these are specific chapters that contain minimum recommend airflow rates for laboratory environments. For environments where animals are not present, the current minimum is 8 ACH, with a maximum of 12 ACH. In cases where animals are present in the lab, a minimum of 10 ACH and a maximum of 15 ACH is recommended.

As you can see, each agency has different recommendations without any currently mandatory regulations. It is your responsibility to determine the most appropriate ACH for your lab to help keep your employees safe. For assistance with planning, design, and lab furniture, hoods, and accessories, please feel free to contact Genie Scientific at 800-545-8816 today!

Certification of Laboratory Fume Hoods

Fume hoods go through a certification process when they are manufactured. These processes are designed to ensure the hood will satisfy state, federal, and international certification guidelines, as well as those that meet or exceed current ISO9001 standards. In addition, the certification is part of the requirements to comply with standards and regulations prescribed by various agencies, including: •    SEFA (Scientific Equipment and Furniture Association) •    OSHA (Occupational Safety and Health Administration) •    ASHRAE (American Society of Heating, Refrigeration, and Air Conditioning Engineers) •    NEBB (National Environmental Balancing Bureau) •    AIHA/ANSI (American Industrial Hygiene Association/American National Standards Institute)

There are specific test procedures used to evaluate the fume hood’s airflow velocity, airflow monitors, airflow gauges, cross-draft air flows, tracer gas containment, and so on. Long before these tests can be performed, the first step in certification is to calibrate the hood, airflow monitors, gauges, and motors.

The calibration has to be performed to verify these items are working correctly and the face velocity of the airflow is within acceptable parameters. Most agencies accept a minimum face velocity of 100 fpm (feet per minute) and a maximum of 120 fpm, and they tend to use 115 fpm as a standardized calibration since it is sufficient for a wide array of general usages.

After a fume hood has been initially certified by the manufacturer, laboratories, universities, healthcare facilities, and other organizations where the hoods are installed must ensure they have policies and practices in place to re-certify the hood on an annual basis, at the minimum. Some operations will re-certify their hoods bi-annually or quarterly, depending upon the amount of use and volume of chemicals and materials being used under the hood.

Anytime a hood is re-certified, the certification sticker on the hood should be updated. Any hood within your organization that either does not have a certification sticker, or has one that was last certified more than a year ago, should not be used until the hood can be tested and re-certified.

Re-certification testing checks the face airflow velocity using an acceptable measuring device, like an electronic digital anemometer, and verifies other devices and functions are working within prescribed and acceptable parameters.

Some organizations outfit their hoods with special monitors that constantly monitor face airflow values. These devices will sound an alarm and alert employees that the airflow has dropped below acceptable minimum levels. The use of monitoring devices is highly recommended, as it helps increase safety in work environments and reduces the risks associated with workplace accidents related to poor venting.

In between annual certifications, regular laboratory inspections should be conducted on all hoods. All monitors and other measurement devices should be checked to ensure they are working properly. In addition, the inspection should verify good housekeeping practices are being followed and practiced.

Anytime a hood is found to not be working correctly or fails testing guidelines, its use should be discontinued immediately until it can be fixed, repaired, and retested. For assistance in laboratory planning, installation, furniture, workbenches, hoods, and other products, call Genie Scientific at 800-545-8816.

How To Clean Your Steel Laboratory (Powder Coated & Stainless)

Steel, an alloy of iron and carbon, is constructed to withstand the maximum stress that a material can undergo without stretching or breaking. It is for this reason that the laboratory industry entrusts in the strength and dexterity of this element. It holds the infrastructure of buildings, automobiles, ships, appliances. But surely that’s not the only reason we like gravitate towards steel in commercial and industrial workspaces, it also falls back to what aesthetically pleases the eye. Steel is clean, contemporary, and devoid of trends. It has been around long before our grandparents age and will outlive the human race. You’ve just bared witness to our ode to steel but now for the realists inquiry, how on earth are you suppose to clean it? It’s challenging to scratch or damage, yes, but steel does expose fingerprint smudges and water marks with great ease. If you have a steel refrigerator you know it’s nearly impossible to keep your loved one’s handprints off the handles and the same goes for fume hoods. Their sole purpose is to be a vessel for experimentation. With experimentation comes test tubes that runneth over and eventually layers of unknown gunk, aka genius, that even the most OCD of folks have given up on tending to. We are here to offer you the cleaning guide to both stainless and powder coated steel:

Direction of the Grain

Before we break into what to use to clean you must master the art of how to clean. Cleaning in the direction of the grain is especially important for stainless. If you look closely at your fume hood, or lab cabinetry, you can visually see a horizontal or vertical direction in which the grain moves. Do not rub in a circulation direction, although you gravitate towards this wax-on-wax-off motion, you must flow in the direction of the grain for optimal results.

Vinegar Myth

Many will recommend vinegar as an all-natural cleaning solvent for pretty much anything in your home but when it comes to degreasing your kitchen range hood, or removing bacteria or mold from your fume hood, there are many other household cleaners better equipped for the job. A recent study in the Journal of Environmental Health confirms that, “Vinegar was more effective in reducing microbial containment than alternative cleaners but least effective in removing soil”. If you strive to remove biological microorganisms from your lab then vinegar can be used but if your goal is to remove liquids or other matter then reach for an alternative solution. Since dirt is often the most common containment you will be cleansing your laboratory or home of see our alternative below.

Cleaning Alternative / Types of Containment

What should you use as an alternative? Regular dish soap and water! Grab a bucket and mix soap with a few drops of liquid detergent in warm water. You can use a lint-free rag to wash the surface (of powder coated steel) making sure that you clean beneath the grooves and alongside the not so visible surfaces. Disclaimer: be mindful of sharp corners, often they are squared, sharp, and with adequate pressure applied they can wound. Follow up by rinsing with cold water. Powder coated finishes resists rust caused by oxidation so you can actually allow the water to dry on the surface without harming the paint (similar to baked on powder coated finishes of a car). If that doesn’t do the trick then try using a pH-neutral household cleaner. Avoid solvents, these are liquids or gasses that can dissolve or extract substance like grease, oil, or paint and they can obstruct the finish of your powder coated furniture.

We recommend using a bristle brush, sponge, or clean cloth. Avoid paper towels and cotton rags as they will stick to the coating. Also avoid using a carbon steel brush or steel wood because they may leave particles along the surface which can lead to unfavorable rusting. Once you have cleaned the surface with soap or a household cleaner, be sure to conclude your cleansing by applying an additional layer of water to rinse away any leftover soap or cleaning product. As for stainless, you can spot treat greasy fingertip smudges by using a glass cleaner or rubbing sodium carbonate with water (with a soft rag). Again, rinse with water afterwards. Avoid using chloride-contained detergents.

Since all steel furniture have varying finishes, we are happy to speak with you further and lend advice about the best cleaning regimen. We hope you reach out to us via Twitter @geniescientific or you may feel free to call us at (714) 545-1838.

Laboratory Airflow Struggles & Solutions

Preventing airflow from creating lab accidents is key to safe research practices. Today there is technology designed to control indoor flow rates by communicating with the exhaust. Depending upon what the exhaust reads, the monitoring devise will alter air flow rates throughout the laboratory, manage temperature, and operate pressure as figures fluctuate. Research suggests that the desired outcome can be achieved but it’s far more complicated than you may think, here is why: The UK based publication, Lab News just released a report citing 70 laboratories that have reported incidents with airflow system. One of which is the $214 million dollar lab designed for Centers for Disease Control in Atlanta. Documents expose that the germ laboratory, which experiments with infectious agents, has trouble with airflow containment. While the agency says that no one has been infected, contaminated air exposed to strains of influenza and other microbes shouldn’t be exposed to the air we deem ‘clean’. This falls back to airflow containment systems that architects, engineers, test and balance firms, and commissioning agents have designed for a specific laboratory space. These systems are designed to minimize energy consumption while providing researchers with a comfortable work environment. But the last, and arguably most important feature, distributing air that supports operation and exposure to control devices is falling short. Federal safety guidelines require sustained directional airflow, drawing in clean air towards potentially contaminated areas.

Airflow systems are designed to help regulate laboratory staff’s exposure to toxins and infectious agents. But with notable laboratories struggling to prevent containment, we thought it was timely to break down key factors that we take into account in Genie designed laboratory, for containment and to prevent airflow obstacles. Here is our breakdown of the three most important things to consider when purchasing an airflow monitoring system for your laboratory.


OSHA provides laboratory safety manuals for chemical hazards. Always look for an OSHA certified airflow monitoring system for your laboratory. Variable Air Volume (VAV) systems, Usage Based Controls (UBC), Occupied/Un-Occupied modes, and Energy Recovery Unites (ERU) are interdependent components. They work alongside Air Handling Units, which distribute air throughout the ductwork and supply air control devices. They also supply air for exposure control devises, exhaust air flow control devises, exhaust ductwork and exhaust fans. Air distribution needs to be harmonious in order for airflow to remain clean throughout the laboratory, and this is up to the lab designer to ensure this happens. Chemical fume hoods are dependent on the same air supply. To achieve the best results, fume hood placement is essential, so is fume hood density, operating modes of air distribution system, air distribution effectiveness, and air diffuser selection.


Your fume hood should rest in a close proximity to differs and transfer air openings.Depending upon the size of your laboratory and the amount of contaminants (risk exposure) you will select a monitoring airflow with measurements and instruments suited to sustain your fume hood’s and laboratories. Fume hoods should be located towards the back of your laboratory, with at least 4 feet distance between the hood and adjacent doors and 4 feet from main traffic in the laboratory. The fume hood should also have 8 feet distance from doorways so there is no cross-draft. The density of the hood depends calls for different air diffusers to deliver air volume. Lab designers ideally keep cross draft, at the plane of the sash, to a maximum of 50% of the designed face velocity. The volume of air that is being delivered is proportionate to velocity. If a diffuser is not mounted flush to the ceiling, or free standing (for laboratories with high ceilings) then discharge characteristics with diffusers are more important. Diffusers should be arranged 5 feet from laboratory hoods and should be two times the area of the fume hood design opening. “The 2:1 ratio can help determine the number of diffusers required to provide adequate make-up air to the lab. The number and size of the diffusers together with the area of the NDZ provides a natural limit to the allowable fume hood density”. (Laboratory Airflow Distribution Task Sheet)



Once your laboratory has been designed with these items in consideration, the last thing you’ll need is an airflow alarm to alert the user if there is a problem with containment or product protection. Airflow balance is fragile, and exposure to hazards containment is uncalled for, so alarms that are pressure sensor-based provide the best protection to worker safety. To read more about Genie’s air monitor alarm’s click here.

Contact Genie’s technical support at (714) 545-1838 or via e-mail at to speak to a consultant about your specific laboratory and we can give advice about our recommendations for the best airflow system for you!