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Dangers relating to the use of gases

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Dangers relating to the use of gases

The dangers involved in handling and distribution of gases derive essentially from their chemical and physical properties as well as from their packaging.

Chemical properties
Gases can be inert, combustive, flammable, toxic and corrosive. Dangers derived from each category are listed below.
  • Inert gases: asphyxia (suboxygenated atmosphere).
  • Combustive gases: fire (superoxygenated atmosphere).
  • Flammable gases: fire (flammable atmosphere).
  • Toxic gases: poisoning (toxic atmosphere).
  • Corrosive gases: chemical burns.
Physical properties
Gases in a gaseous state: Because they are compressed in cylinders, with pressures of up to 200 bar, the risk of explosion is real, due to the pressure energy that can be released by a sudden gas leak.

Gases in a liquid state: Gases are liquid at temperatures much lower than zero (up to -200 °C). Here, contact with them can cause cold burns.

Some liquid gases are under pressure and, in this case, dangers derive both from the pressure and the cold.

Packaging
Containers commonly used are cylinders and large cylinders for compressed gases; drums and tanks for liquified gases.
Dangers that can derive from the handling of these containers are:
  • where cylinders and/or accessories fall
  • the projection of objects
  • contact/exposure of body parts to cold
  • exposure to smog and /or steam
  • moving of vessels or containers.

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