From: Nora Dunkel <noradunkel51**At_Symbol_Here**WEBSTER.EDU>
Subject: Re: [DCHAS-L] Compressed gases and sparking electronics
Date: Thu, 27 Jun 2019 15:20:58 +0000
Reply-To: ACS Division of Chemical Health and Safety <DCHAS-L**At_Symbol_Here**PRINCETON.EDU>
Message-ID: BN6PR11MB1505AE7D4DC8464B1B06EA16CBFD0**At_Symbol_Here**

The room was originally designed for cylinder storage (to NFPA requirements to the best of my knowledge).  It shares a common wall with our cadaver lab, and thus became a convenient place to install AV equipment (shorter cable reach to the cadaver lab's cameras/computers). 


There's between 10 and 12 "K" cylinders in the room at any given time.  Everything is either an oxidizer or an inert gas (CO2, Nitrogen).  We have a policy to never store flammable gas cylinders in the room—they are trucked straight to the point of use (a GC on another floor) and only ordered when the in-use cylinder is empty. 


As for why we're storing extra cylinders…we have a large Nurse Anesthesia department with a full-sized mock operating room that uses 4 oxygen cylinders and 1-2 nitrous cylinders in parallel.  So there's a single back-up tank in storage for every in-use tank in the simulated O.R. in case multiple tanks reach empty at the same time.  (We could probably get away with fewer stored tanks, but there will always be some in storage, due to the nature of the process they're used for.)





From: ACS Division of Chemical Health and Safety [mailto:DCHAS-L**At_Symbol_Here**PRINCETON.EDU] On Behalf Of Jeffrey Lewin
Sent: Thursday, June 27, 2019 7:46 AM
Subject: Re: [DCHAS-L] Compressed gases and sparking electronics


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Some questions that may help you form the arguments to the administration (or for your faculty):


Was the room designed as a gas storage room (to NFPA or IBC requirements) or is it just a convenient room to store cylinders?


Was the room being used for cylinder storage then became a convenient place to put AV equipment?  Or is it an AV room that became a convenient place to store cylinders?


What quantity of cylinders is being stored?  Are there any flammable gases (if so, there are additional storage requirements if oxidizers are also in the room).


And finally, the question I always ask when I see cylinder storage, is "why are you storing extra cylinders?"  While it often makes sense to have a spare to swap out, especially if it takes a few days to get replacements from a vendor, I always question why there are more than one.  Fewer cylinders are always safer/better and in many cases, the rental on the cylinder can quickly exceed the value of the gas in the cylinder.





On Tue, Jun 25, 2019 at 12:20 PM Nora Dunkel <noradunkel51**At_Symbol_Here**> wrote:

Hello all,


Curious to get this group's input… I recently discovered a large A/V rack in the gas cylinder room of my university's science building.  The A/V rack is hardwired into the wall, and is NOT spark-proof/hospital grade.  It could make sparks at any time.  In the same room, we have full cylinders of compressed oxygen, nitrous oxide, and air. The room itself likely has flammable construction.  We probably have about 50 employees in the building, plus hundreds of students during the academic terms.


All the science faculty are (rightly) having a conniption fit and demanding that the A/V rack be moved to another room.  However, the city fire chief inspected and said that "cylinders were properly stored and there was no open flame in the room", so no move was necessary, as no code was violated.  So now the administration is dragging its feet, saying that the rack doesn't need to be moved (and IT suggested that we should just plug it back in).


Are there resources out there to convince the higher level of Administration that this situation is inherently hazardous and worth the resources to correct?  Besides pedantically explaining the fire triangle/tetrahedron to them and bringing up the Apollo 1 fire?  Or are the entire biology, chemistry, physics and nursing faculty (and I) all over-reacting?


Thanks for your help,


Nora Dunkel

Chemical Safety Officer

Webster University

314-246-2244 (office)




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Jeff Lewin

Chemical Safety Officer

Compliance, Integrity, and Safety

Environmental Health and Safety

207 Advanced Technology Development Complex (ATDC)

Michigan Technological University

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