Safety Tips: Toxic and Inert Gases

In many industrial environments, toxic gases and inert gases may exist in the atmosphere. Although both have similar safety hazards and characteristics, there are differences between the two.

Toxic Gases : Toxic gases, fumes, and vapors from chemical or manufacturing processes are considered the most significant exposure risk for safety that workers face in industrial environments. A toxic gas can cause harm to humans ranging from damage to living tissue, the central nervous system, severe illness, or even death. Some toxic gases are not visible, are odorless, and may not have an immediate effect on personnel. Additionally, many gases are both toxic and combustible. Toxic gases include hydrogen sulfide, carbon monoxide, nitrogen dioxide, ammonia, and chlorine. Applications where toxic gases are present must implement a gas detection network to mitigate risk in all areas where the gases could create a workplace hazard for life safety.

Inert Gases : Inert gases are odorless, colorless, and tasteless gases. Some inert gases can be more harmful than toxic gases because they are undetectable. With very low chemical reactivity, they are highly unreactive unless exposed to extreme conditions. With inert gases, such as nitrogen, argon, and helium; Asphyxiation is insidious. The asphyxiating effect of inert gases occurs without any preliminary sign. Lack of oxygen may cause dizziness, headache, or speech difficulties – and asphyxiation leads to rapid loss of consciousness. Considering the hazards, it is essential to provide all those who handle or use inert gases with all the safety information and training necessary. This includes implementing prevention tactics to help avoid accidents, as well as, planned procedures in the event of an accident.

Inert gases are known to exist within or around gas leaks, vent exhausts, the outlet of safety valves and rupture disks, blind flanges, near access to vessels or purged enclosures, and openings of machines that use nitrogen.

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