To add to Michael's comments, I'm puzzled why the consultant is focusing on oxygen. As I understand the toxicology, it is an irrelevant treatment, in that (to oversimplify) cyanide blocks respiration in the cell downstream of the oxygen, so it doesn't matter how much oxygen you have going in; it's going to hit a bottleneck, metabolically, and has nowhere to go.
If I may editorialize, anyone can call themselves an "OHS consultant."Donald Abramowitz
Bryn Mawr College
Bryn Mawr, PAHi Paul,
Medical oxygen is not necessary when conducting experiments involving cyanide salts (sodium cyanide, potassium cyanide, potassium ferricyanide, sodium thioscyanide). If the cyanide salt powder is inhaled, there is a possibility the salt may be metabolized to form hydrogen cyanide in the body and inhibit respiration. The probability of this happening is low. If for some reason an employee is careless when working with the material, and the concentration of cyanide salt exceeds 4-5ppm, you may want to consider respiratory protection (respirator) and medical surveillance program.
It is important to stress that cyanide salts are incompatible with oxidizing agents and acids, as cyanide salts will readily decompose into lethal hydrogen cyanide gas.
If you are referring about experiments involving hydrogen cyanide gas (assuming if you able to purchase that), medical oxygen would not be the solution. If these are the experiments you guys are working with, you should really consider some serious chemical protection PPE such as a self containing breathing apparatus (SCBA) and heavy duty chemical resistant Level A or B Hazmat suits.
Environmental Health and Safety Manager
Long Island University Brooklyn Campus
Buildings and Grounds
1 University Plaza M101
Brooklyn, NY 11201
From: Paul Dover <Paul.Dover**At_Symbol_Here**MONASH.EDU<mailto:Paul.Dover**At_Symbol_Here**MONASH.EDU>>
Reply-To: DCHAS-L <DCHAS-L**At_Symbol_Here**MED.CORNELL.EDU<mailto:DCHAS-L**At_Symbol_Here**MED.CORNELL.EDU>>
Date: Thu, 17 May 2012 13:26:20 +0000
Subject: [DCHAS-L] Medical Oxygen requirement for experiments with cyanides
Can I ask for a quick show of hands. We have a new OHS consultant who a bit hung up on the immediate availablity of medical oxygen and training in administration of medical oxygen for ANY experiments involving cyanide. To the extent that no work should commence until this is in place.
Is this what happens elsewhere? Does it seem a bit oveboard? Is it a 'control' as such, or just a nice thing to have. We are 5 mins away from a major hospital.
Thanks in advance, Paul
Resources Manager (Medicinal Chemistry & Drug Action)
Faculty of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences
Monash University (Parkville Campus)
381 Royal Parade, Parkville
Victoria 3052, Australia
Tel: Int + 61 3 9903 9551
Fax: Int + 61 3 9903 9143
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