Graduate Students/Department of Environmental Safety
This proposal funded research done by three graduate students and the Department of Environmental Safety on a more sustainable option for storing toxic gas cylinders. The researchers assessed chemical fume hoods’ engineering controls’ ability to safely contain simulated toxic gas leaks from compressed gas cylinders. If compressed gas cylinders, slightly larger than lecture bottles, could be evacuated within a standard chemical fume hood to simulate a significant leak and no containment breach into the laboratory itself occurred, safe utilization inside a chemical fume hood would be partially substantiated and calls for a formal review of the national code would be justified. Currently, the code limits cylinder size to a lecture size bottle. Ultimately, the experiments determined that occupational exposure from a significant gas leak, occurring within a chemical fume hood from a compressed gas cylinder slightly larger than a lecture bottle, was below the limit of detection and could therefore be safely contained. The graduate students involved in the project are drafting recommendations for a code review at the national level. If the code is amended to authorize the use of the next size up from a lecture bottle, those cylinders would be actively tracked by the vendor whose routine preventive maintenance would enhance safety, the cylinders would be returnable to the vendor and not need hazardous waste disposal, and costly safety system purchases would be avoided.