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Safe Use of Compressed Gas Cylindersby Susan McElrath
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Compressed gases present several hazards. Labels on the cylinder and the Material Safety Data Sheet (MSDS) supplied with the gas tell you about the hazardous properties of the gas; such as toxic, flammable, or oxidizer. In addition to the gas hazards, compressed gas cylinders pose other hazards simply because they contain gas under pressure.
Regardless of the properties of the gas, any gas under pressure can explode if the compressed gas cylinders is improperly stored or handled. Making a balloon fly around by suddenly releasing the air is amusing, but a flying cylinder is not so funny. The principle is the same for both a balloon and a compressed gas cylinder. Improperly releasing the gas from a compressed gas cylinder is extremely dangerous. Cylinders are definitely not balloons--they are hard and heavy. A sudden release of the gas can cause a cylinder to become a missile-like projectile, destroying everything in its path. Cylinders have been known to penetrate concrete-block walls. To prevent such a dangerous situation, there are several general procedures to follow for safe storage and handling of a compressed gas cylinder: