Industrial gases assist in a variety of industrial processes and other operations across a selection of industries. The use of industrial gases allows us to have medical procedures without worry or anxiety, produce products such as plastic, antifreeze for food applications, or paper, as well as substitutes for oil and gas applications. But, industrial gases can present health risks when exposed at certain concentrations, and narrow down to three common types.
The three categories for common industrial gases are toxic, corrosive, and combustible. Toxic gases easily build up in confined spaces and displace oxygen levels, leading to asphyxiation and other health risks. Certain applications, such as welding in factories, and poor storage practices, like biological chemical breakdowns of a substance stored in a tank, can result in toxic gas. Corrosive gases refer to gases having the power to cause irreversible damage or destruction to another substance through contact. It can damage living tissue as well as some metals. Lastly, combustible gases are gases stored in pressurized environments or storage, like a cylinder or bulk container, and can readily ignite if a leak occurred.
Common types of toxic gases in industrial applications are carbon monoxide (CO), carbon dioxide (CO2), hydrogen fluoride (HF), hydrogen sulfide (H2S), and volatile organic compounds (VOCs). Carbon monoxide has no smell or color and can be commonly found in oil and gas applications. Carbon dioxide can be found in a variety of industries, but have the most risk in poorly ventilated areas or crowded areas with low oxygen concentrations. Hydrogen fluoride is often detected in petroleum processing and metal finishing and is known for irritation of the eyes, skin, and mucous membranes when personnel are exposed to it. Hydrogen sulfide is commonly found in water treatment plants, sewers, and landfills, and commonly known for its rotten egg smell. One of the most hazardous gases is VOCs as they are found in many fuels and solvents, while also presenting flammable risks and severe irritation in small concentrations.
Corrosive gases commonly known are ammonia, hydrogen chloride, nitrogen dioxide, and sulfur dioxide. They are very hazardous as they cause permanent damage when exposed to certain concentrations. They are commonly known to affect certain organs (vision and respiratory tracts are particularly sensitive) but other damages are dependent on the solubility of the gas. Ammonia and hydrogen chloride can cause severe nose and throat irritation, while nitrogen dioxide and sulfur dioxide can penetrate deep into the lungs can create life-threatening risks.
Acetylene, butane, ethylene, methane, propane, and propylene are all common industrial gases that are known to combust when a leak occurs near an ignition source. Common industries utilizing these gases are welding, manufacturing, and oil and gas. The most common ignition source is some type of heat or flame, and each one has its own flashpoint before the risk becomes intense. There are scenarios where the ignition source is not always a heat source, as acetylene can create a high-risk situation when exposed to water on calcium carbide.
Although common gases serve real-world functions, they can create dangerous combinations very quickly. At DOD Technologies, we make it our business to keep you and your staff safe by early detection practices through our selection of gas leak detection systems. Our innovative services are meant to save lives as we value the safety of all personnel and work environments. DOD Technologies offers a variety of portable and fixed gas detection systems for your needs. Do you have a question regarding gas detection within your application? With more than 150 years of combined instrumentation and application knowledge, DOD Technologies is prepared to offer its expertise and solutions for your toughest requirements while keeping you, your employees, and your equipment safe.
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