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Use of Natural Gas/Bunsen Burner within a Biological Safety Cabinet

The use of natural gas for Bunsen burners in a microbiological laboratory has long been an accepted practice over the years. This practice has also carried over to use within a Biological Safety Cabinet (BSC). However, Bunsen burners within BSC's do present some inherent problems and are not needed or recommended unless deemed absolutely necessary. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) document - Primary Containment for Biohazards: Selection, Installation and use of Biological Safety Cabinets, section V, Operations within a class II BSC, states:

"Open flames are not required in the near microbe-free environment of a biological safety cabinet. On an open bench, flaming the neck of a culture vessel will create an upward air current, which prevents microorganisms from falling into the tube or flask. An open flame in a BSC, however, creates turbulence, which disrupts the pattern of air supplied to the work surface. When deemed absolutely necessary, touch-plate micro-burners equipped with a pilot light to provide a flame on demand may be used. Internal cabinet air disturbance and heat buildup will be minimized. The burner must be turned off when work is completed. Small electric: "furnaces" are available for decontaminating bacteriological loops and needles and are preferable to an open flame inside the BSC. Disposable sterile loops can also be used."