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Colouring for medicinal gas cylinders

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Colouring for medicinal gas cylinders

The UNI EN 1089-3 Standard provides an identification system for gas cylinders with shoulder colour codes.
The Ministry of Transport and Ministry of Health, recognising the opportunity to make the distinctive colouring of cylinders uniform, so as to facilitate circulation of goods in EU Countries, declared via a decree dated 7 January 1999 that:
  • for new cylinders the use of the new colours would be obligatory as from 10 August 1999
  • for cylinders already in circulation the new colours would be adopted on the occasion of their first periodic overhaul and in any case before 30 June 2006.

In general the colouring of the shoulder of the cylinder does not identify the gas but only the principal risk associated with it:
  • toxic and/or corrosive yellow
  • inflammable red
  • oxidizing light blue
  • inert bright green.
Specific colours are foreseen only for the most common gases, among which are oxygen, nitrogen, carbon dioxide and nitrous oxide.
In cases where a two colour code is required, it is recommended that this is applied in circular segments, one above the other. The Standard, however, allows them to be placed in alternating quadrants.
The colour of the shoulder identifies the nature of the danger associated with the transported gas particularly useful when, because of distance, the label is not easily legible.
To identify a gas it is essential to refer to the label affixed to the cylinder.

Essential points of Standard UNI EN 1089-3 and the recommendations of the Medicinal Gases Group of Assogastecnici-Federchimica, for its application to medicinal gases
Colour coding according to the new Standard is identified by a capital letter “N” placed in two diametrically opposed positions on the shoulder, at a height of about 7/10 of the height of the shoulder and in a colour contrasting with that of the shoulder. The use of the letter “N” is not however obligatory where the colour of the shoulder does not change. For gas mixtures, the Standard allows a choice between colouring according to the type of risk and that with the two colours which identifies the principal components. The Medicinal Gases Group of Assogastecnici-Federchimica recommends the following colours to its Associates:
  • medical air white and black
  • synthetic medicinal air white and black (containing 20% or 23,5% of O2)
  • oxygen and nitrogen bright green (O2 < 20%)
  • oxygen and nitrogen light blue (O2 > 23,5%)
  • oxygen and carbon dioxide white and grey
  • oxygen and nitrous oxide white and blue
Other mixtures must be identified by a colour code which indicates the dominant property of the contents,following a decreasing order of risk as hereby indicated:
  • toxic and corrosive yellow
  • inflammable red
  • oxidizing light blue
  • inert bright green
Body Colour
The body of cylinders containing medical gases is white, as declared via decree 178 of 4 August 2000, according to general European rules
Before, green was the distinctive colour.
Colouring medicinal gas cylinders