From: Alan Hall <ahalltoxic**At_Symbol_Here**MSN.COM>
Subject: Re: [DCHAS-L] Medical Oxygen requirement for experiments with cyanides
Date: May 23, 2012 10:02:21 AM EDT
Reply-To: DCHAS-L <DCHAS-L**At_Symbol_Here**MED.CORNELL.EDU>
Message-ID: <B6E6A07A-C98C-49B8-99D3-4001C33EA16F**At_Symbol_Here**mimectl>

As an internationally recognized Medical Toxicology "expert" in cyanide poisoning who is currently co-editing what I hope will be the definitive cyanide poisoning reference book to be published next year by John Wiley & Sons, Chichester, UK, I will point out that all published literature only suggests that oxygen (even 100% oxygen delivered by entotracheal tube) and hyperbaric oxygen have never been conclusively shown to be beneficial by themselves, but only as an additive or synergistic therapy with approved cyanide antidotes.
However, I do understand that you have to comply with whatever rules, guidelines, and regulations your institution works  under. 
Best wishes.
Alan H. Hall, M.D.
Medical Toxicologist

Date: Wed, 23 May 2012 11:49:45 +0000
From: Paul.Dover**At_Symbol_Here**MONASH.EDU
Subject: Re: [DCHAS-L] Medical Oxygen requirement for experiments with cyanides

  Dear all,


Thanks for your replies, especially all the Michaels!

I guess initially I had a bit of a knee jerk reaction, as I'm sure we have all had experience of OHS consultants (who do not need to be 'certified' by our legislation) issuing sweeping recommendations which are always offered as advice not requirements. But who is game to then take the one in a billion chance of something happening and not having the 'recommendation' at hand?

So, reluctantly from me, we are taking the comparative easy way out. Having medical oxygen on site, arranging to have regular testing, training, documentation and so on. I can add we never use hydrogen cyanide gas, and as part of the risk assessment we always use fume hoods, cleared from any possible reactive materials, inform facilities management at least  24hrs before (so no one works on the roof), and run the procedures (including spill management and disposal) through a committee of experienced chemists.

The documentation we have found that relate to oxygen requirements for cyanide in our 'territory' include this from 1993:


Which relates to 'cyanide poisoning' in a very general context, and almost  embarrassing as an Aussie when you read through it.


Also this one, a little more recent, having been revised in 2008:


But as a lot of these government things have there is the usual 'back to you' disclaimer: 


"Each site needs to undertake a risk assessment to determine the appropriate quantity and location of oxygen that should be available on site, taking into consideration the numbers of potentially exposed personnel and the duration to reach a tertiary care facility."
Then this article that states 'anecdotal' evidence the oxygen therapy is useful from the UK in 1996:
I don't think I have seen a document that ever states "Nah, you don't need it", unfortunately. The best it gets is like above.
Anyway, thanks again everyone.
Cheers, Paul


Paul Dover
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

E-mail: paul.dover**At_Symbol_Here**



Previous post   |  Top of Page   |   Next post

The content of this page reflects the personal opinion(s) of the author(s) only, not the American Chemical Society, ILPI, Safety Emporium, or any other party. Use of any information on this page is at the reader's own risk. Unauthorized reproduction of these materials is prohibited. Send questions/comments about the archive to
The maintenance and hosting of the DCHAS-L archive is provided through the generous support of Safety Emporium.