Hazards of Chemicals and Gases
Many safety precautions that must be taken with compressed gases also apply to liquified gases.
However, some additional precautions are necessary because of the special properties exhibited
by fluids at cryogenic temperatures.
The properties of cryogenic liquids affect their safe handling and use. Table 1 presents
information to help determine safe handling procedures. None of the gases listed are corrosive
at ambient temperatures, and only carbon monoxide is toxic.
Always handle cryogenic liquids carefully. They can cause frostbite on skin and
exposed eye tissue. When spilled, they tend to spread, covering a surface
completely and cooling a large area. The vapors emitted by these liquids are also
extremely cold and can damage tissues. The vapor boil-off may inert the
Stand clear of boiling or splashing liquid and its vapors. Boiling and splashing
occurs when a warm container is charged or when warm objects are inserted into
a liquid. These operations should always be performed slowly to minimize
boiling and splashing. If cold liquid or vapor comes in contact with the skin or
eyes, first aid should be given immediately.
Never allow an unprotected part of the body to touch uninsulated pipes or
vessels that contain cryogenic fluids. The extremely cold metal will cause the
flesh to stick fast to the surface and tear when withdrawn. Touching even
nonmetallic materials at low temperatures is dangerous.
Tongs, or a similar device, should be used to withdraw objects immersed in a cryogenic liquid.
Materials that are soft and pliable at room temperature become hard and brittle at extremely low
temperatures and will break easily.
Workers handling cryogenic liquids should use eye and hand protection to protect against
splashing and cold-contact burns. Safety glasses are also recommended. If severe spraying or
splashing is likely, a face shield or chemical goggles should be worn. Protective gloves should
always be worn when anything that comes in contact with cold liquids and their vapors is being
handled. Gloves should be loose fitting so that they can be removed quickly if liquids are spilled
into them. Trousers should remain outside of boots or work shoes.