Quick Assessment of Fume Hood Containment Using Smoke Pattern Visualizations

Marc Drouin, University of Toronto

The University of Toronto is a research intensive university with over 1600 fume hoods (FH), most of which are constant air volume. A recent survey shows that a majority of FH have an average face velocity over 110 fpm with exception of the newly installed high efficiency fume hoods (HEFH). Reducing by 25% the exhaust of FHs is one of the many energy saving initiatives the University is undertaking which will impact positively its carbon footprint. As this energy saving program may impact the safety in labs, the Sustainability Office and the Environmental Health and Safety Office initiated a FH recertification program in parallel to monitoring FH efficiency of containment using a combined method of "as used" ASHRAE 110 certification and smoke pattern visualization. During this study, N2O, which has a much lower CO2 equivalent impact than the standard tracer SF6 gas, was used and compared under the same conditions to validate the choice of N2O applied to the standard. In addition, the use of smoke patterns visualization was compared to tracer gas measurements and revealed to be an effective method for assessing the likelihood to pass or fail the ASHRAE testing protocols leading to certification, and resulted in developing an efficient methodology of first assessment of containment. Based on the smoke pattern visualization and cross draft measurement, FH containment were graded into four different levels: (A) full containment, will pass "as used" ASHRAE 110 certification - no further testing required; (B) small leaks observed, require further investigation and containment testing; (C) containment testing required, may require to increase exhaust; (F) smoke escape from FH, will fail certification - action required.

This paper will present the methodology for visual first stage assessment using smoke patterns and how the results can be used to direct optimization of energy savings without compromising laboratory safety.

Learning Objectives

  • Proper containment qualification - how do you assess containment easily?
  • Learning the testing protocols of ASHRAE and how to interpret the results.
  • The value of proper fume hood sash opening protocol i n terms of containment and energy savings
  • The effect of cross ventilation and air distribution on fume hood efficacy.


Marc has his Masters in materials and physical chemistry and an MBA. He has been involved with environmental health and safety in lab facilities, directing that for Sherbrooke University in Quebec and now at the University of Toronto. He is collaborating with Facilities and Services to optimize lab operations for safety and energy performance.


Note: I2SL did not edit or revise abstract or biography text. Abstracts and biographies are displayed as submitted by the author(s).