I have to admit, it’s become sort of a joke around here. At its height, before most of the gas detection companies either got acquired or simply disappeared, there were nearly 50 of them, most of which sold (yawn) portable multigas units, featuring oxygen, combustibles, and one or more toxics.

Although the instruments could certainly be utilized in other ways, it seems that all the manufacturers—and most of the distributors ever talk about is “confined entry.” Why? There’s around zero applications engineering involved, beyond—MAYBE—taking a moment to figure out which gases might actually be present in the confined space.

More than that, the gases being monitored are always easy and cheap to calibrate. Is it not possible in this wide world that, say, formaldehyde could be in a confined space? Or, heck, even hydrogen peroxide in a pharmaceutical app? But, since gases such as those are more difficult to deal with, it’s like they don’t exist.

While we’re at it, continuous area monitoring is…more difficult, so I guess we shouldn’t even try, right?

I’ll leave you with this: How many “confined entry” incidents do you suppose there are each year that DON’T involve the usual suspect gases? We’ll probably never know, since almost by definition, an incident involving a “weird” gas would not qualify as “confined entry.”

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