Gases that corrode the material or tissue they come in contact with are classified as corrosive. They can also be reactive and toxic and/or flammable or an oxidizer. Most are hazardous in low concentrations over long periods of time.
Corrosive gases and vapors are hazardous to all parts of the body; certain organs, such as the eyes and the respiratory tract, are particularly sensitive. The severity of the effect from the gas is related to the solubility of the material in the body fluids. Highly soluble gases, such as ammonia and hydrogen chloride, cause severe nose and throat irritation, while substances of lower solubility, such as nitrogen dioxide, phosgene, and sulfur dioxide, can penetrate deep into the lungs.
Below are safety tips to follow when working with corrosive gases:
1. Warning properties such as odor or eye, nose or respiratory tract irritation may be inadequate with some substances. Therefore, they should not be relied upon as a warning of overexposure.
2. Perform manipulations of materials that pose an inhalation hazard in a chemical fume hood to control exposure or wear appropriate respiratory protection.
3. Protect all exposed skin surfaces from contact with corrosive or irritating gases and vapors using proper protective clothing and equipment.
4. Regulators and valves should be closed when the cylinder is not in use and flushed with dry air or nitrogen after use.
5. When corrosive gases are to be discharged into a liquid, a trap, check valve, or vacuum break device should be employed to prevent dangerous reverse flow.
6. Due to the probability of irritation and damage to the lungs, mucus membranes and eye tissues from contact, the threshold limit values of the gas should be rigidly observed.
7. A full body shower and eye wash station should be in the area. Personnel must be familiar with the work area.
8. Aisles should always be clear and unobstructed in the event that the gas makes contact with the eyes and vision is disrupted.