Compressed Gases

This chemical standard operating procedure (SOP) is for your safety. Read, understand, and follow this document. If this is a paper copy, you should check for the most recent version on the IsoLab website. This document was created from a template modeled after the University of Washington Environmental Health and Safety Laboratory Safety Manual Standard Operating Procedures Components. Additional UW EH&S resources on compressed gases can be found at this url: https://www.ehs.washington.edu/research-lab/compressed-gas-cryogenic-fluids.

Are compressed gases a particularly hazardous substance? NO (except SO2)

What is a particularly hazardous substance? The University of Washington Environmental Health and Safety defines it here.

The SDS for all IsoLab compressed gases can be found here. You should also have taken the EH&S compressed gas training.

1. Process Most of the processes in IsoLab use compressed gases. They are prevalent and abundant and lab personnel need to be aware of how to be safe around them.
2. Hazards

All compressed gases - A health hazard of all compressed gases is asphyxiation due to venting or sudden release displacing breathing air. Another major health hazard is a catastrophic release resulting in projectiles. Refer to the respective SDS for more information.

Toxic compressed gases - Sulfur dioxide (SO2) has its own SOP here. It causes severe skin burns and eye damage, is toxic if inhaled, and is corrosive to the respiratory tract.

Flammable or fire intensifying compressed gases - Hydrogen, oxygen, nitrous oxide. In addition to the above hazards, these compressed gases may be flammable or will intensify fire.

Inert compressed gas cylinders - helium, nitrogen, argon, and carbon dioxide. These compressed gases do not have additional hazards beyond those listed above.

3. Personal Protective Equipment

SO2 has a separate SOP.

Other compressed gases in IsoLab do not require personal protective equipment when handling compressed gas cylinders.

4. Environmental / Ventilation Controls

SO2 has a separate SOP.

No environmental or ventilation controls are required for other compressed gases.

5. Special Handling Procedures & Storage Requirements

Compressed gas cylinders must be fastened securely at all times whether in use, transit, or storage. Cylinder safety caps must be in place whenever cylinders are not in use for an extended period of time or during transport. Proper valves and/or regulators for the specific gas must be used. Transport large cylinders only on an approved dolly or cart. IsoLab's two cylinder dollies are located in 302A near the door to 302C.

Store oxygen and nitrous oxide separate from hydrogen. Oxygen and nitrous oxide are stored on the south wall of 302A while hydrogen is stored on the north wall next to the fume hood.

6. Spill and Accident Procedures

SO2 has a separate SOP.

IsoLab is unique in its rapid turnover of air when the building circulation is working properly. However, in the event of a catastrophic or sudden release, personnel should prop open lab doors and move to a more ventilated area until normal breathing air is restored. A sudden release is also quite likely to be very loud. If it is safe to stop the release, find ear protection in 302C.

7. Waste Disposal

SO2 has a separate SOP.

Empty compressed gas cylinders should be marked 'empty' by removing the lower portion of the paper tag and returned to Airgas.

8. Special Precautions for Animal Use (if applicable) N/A
Particularly hazardous substance involved? NO, ignore 9-11
9. Approval Required


10. Decontamination N/A
11. Designated Area N/A


I have read and understood the present SOP and, before starting work outlined in the present SOP, I will complete all required training.

Last updated: 2022-09-14 14:46:51