Oxygen (O2) is arguably one of the most important gases in our atmosphere. It is needed to not only sustain life on this planet but also makes up half of the Earth’s crust. Oxygen, by mass, is the third most abundant element in the universe. The general understanding is that if the oxygen level is too low it can be dangerous to human health. But what most people do not know is that if the oxygen levels are too high, it can have harmful effects.
What exactly is oxygen?
At standard atmospheric temperature and pressure, two Oxygen atoms bind together to form dioxygen, which is an odorless and colorless gas with a formula we all know it as O2.
As you would have learned in school, this form of oxygen makes up 20.9% of the Earth’s breathable atmosphere.
Common industrial uses of oxygen include the production of textiles, steel, and plastics, metal cutting and welding, and in water treatment.
What are the risks?
The “normal” level of oxygen is deemed safe and has no effects on our health. However, when the levels start to rise around the 23% concentration mark, it is time to raise an alarm. When the levels sink to 19.5%, it is another alarm level. At 16% one will start to feel sleepy, dizzy, or confused and at 6% is it fatal. On the flip side, if the levels are at 24% the flammability of materials and gases increases so much that items such as clothing can spontaneously combust.
This is why we set our gas detectors to alarm anywhere outside of the 19.5 % to 23.5% range.
What are some ways to take preventative measures?
All work environments should conduct a risk assessment and make sure that the proper measures are taken for identified risks. The team at Encore takes gas detection very seriously as it an important aspect to life.
If your employees are working in an area that has fluctuating oxygen levels, we highly recommend that each worker wears an Oxygen monitor, whether it be a single gas unit or a multi-gas unit. Our monitors show the real-time reading of oxygen that is in the air at any moment. If the levels slip outside of the set range (19.5%-23.5%), the unit will go into alarm with visual, audible, and vibrational alerts. With this clear warning, it is easy to detect a risky situation.
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If you have any questions or concerns about the oxygen levels in your workplace, don’t hesitate to contact us.