Thank you all. Your comments are, as always, very helpful.
While reading them I have come up with a theory. See if this has any merit and feel free to send comments (even if you think it's crazy!) J
Thinking back to my early days in chemistry I remembered that benches had plumbed natural gas so they could provide a "continuous" supply of gas. That "continuous" supply would be the only advantage over a source of heat say from a propane torch or an alcohol lamp.
These temporary devices can be used for sealing an ampule or bending an occasional piece of glass or even sterilizing an inoculating loop.
Then I asked myself why was there a need for a "continuous" gas supply? Other than an instrument flame, or bending or polishing glass it was used so we could heat or boil chemical solutions on the lab bench (before we students had instructional fume hoods of course).
Certainly, heating solutions today would be performed in fume hoods so the need for a "continuous" supply of gas at the benches diminished.
Today, bench installations with these gas taps now should probably be restricted to non-chemical use and monitored, otherwise the temptation still exists to put a beaker on a Bunsen burner and perform operations that should really be performed in a fume hood.
Make sense? Your thoughts?
Christopher E. Kohler
Laboratory Safety Manager
University Environmental Health and Safety
1514 E Third Street
Bloomington, IN 47405
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