Oxygen is naturally found in the air, which helps us to breathe. In other words, it is the reason why we are alive. But, can you breathe welding oxygen?
You can breathe welding oxygen like medical oxygen as both have nearly the same level of oxygen in them. But, exposure to too much oxygen can be hazardous for health. So, proper caution is advised.
In this article, I will talk extensively about if you can breathe welding oxygen. After that, I am going to discuss the negative effects of inhaling excessive welding oxygen and some safety tips. So, make sure you read till the end.
Breathing Welding Oxygen
Medical oxygen is produced to assist patients who need oxygen. It is nowadays used not only in hospitals or clinics but also brought at homes. These oxygen cylinders have to be prescribed by doctors, and the use of the oxygen has to be monitored.
However, in terms of emergency, people buy welding oxygen cylinders instead of medical-grade oxygen cylinders. Many third-world countries do not differentiate much on welding or medical-grade oxygen cylinders.
The truth is there is not much difference between welding and medical oxygen. There are seven grades of oxygen approved for various purposes. They are graded from A to G. Grade A has 99.0% oxygen which gradually increases to Grade G which is 99.55% oxygen. All of the grades have to be levelled by USP. The grades are also different according to their uses.
Medical grade oxygen has 99.5% oxygen. The level of oxygen helps to assist human breathing. On the other hand, welding oxygen has 99.2% oxygen. It is slightly less pure than medical-grade oxygen. Welding oxygen is used for industrial purposes like heating, stabilizing, and joining metals.
Therefore, people are often concerned about the level of purity and level of oxygen concentration. Doctors and paramedics assure that this welding gas is almost as effective as medical-grade oxygen. As it is said before, there is not much difference between these two types of oxygen. Even their cylinders or tanks can be the same.
However, you have to be cautious about using welding oxygen tanks not because of the oxygen, but for the use of the tank. The tanks or cylinders might get exposed to dangerous chemicals or get damaged while handling. Poisonous gas or chemicals can enter the tank or cylinder and cause serious accidents.
This is because they are not as strictly handled as medical grade oxygen is. But that doesn’t mean they are neglected while manufacturing. Even the slightest of impurities in the oxygen may cause failure of welding. So, manufacturers strictly maintain that the oxygen contained is as pure as possible.
So, there is nothing to be concerned about if you are exposed to welding gas or use it instead of medical grade. But, too much exposure to any gas can be harmful to your body.
Negative Effects of Too Much Exposure to Welding Oxygen
There is nothing to worry about if you are exposed to welding gas or use it instead of medical grade. But, too much exposure to any gas can be harmful to the human body. Similarly, welding and medical oxygen both have serious effects on our bodies.
Before we know the negative effects of welding gas, let us first understand how oxygen works in the human body.
Every day, we wake up, run around and do our jobs. To keep our bodies fit for all the activities, we eat food. To break this food into energy, we need oxygen.
We get the oxygen from the air around us. We breathe in the gas, and it goes into our bloodstream. This way, oxygen breaks the food and creates energy for our body. When there is a lack of oxygen in our body, it causes hypoxemia. When the level of oxygen is too low in the blood, our body cannot work properly.
Oxygen is found naturally in the air. The concentration of oxygen in the air is 21%. Moreover, it is mixed with other oxygen like nitrogen. Hence, it is not dangerous for us to breathe in natural oxygen.
But, too much of anything is not good for anyone. The same goes for oxygen. Pure oxygen in high doses can be deadly for people. Welding oxygen has 99.2% oxygen which is very close to pure oxygen. Regular exposure to welding oxygen without regulation will harm your body.
The high levels of oxygen in the body will create some dangerous chemical reactions in your body. When we breathe in oxygen, the tiny molecules of oxygen get attached with haemoglobin known as transport blood cells. Haemoglobin carries oxygen through our entire body.
In case of inhaling too much welding oxygen, the haemoglobin won’t be able to work fast enough to transport the oxygen out of your lungs. As the extra oxygen molecules cannot move out from your lungs causing oxygen toxicity and eventually lung collapse. As a result, you may experience breathlessness. Here are some other side effects of excess oxygen consumption:
- Chest pain
- Blurred vision
Blocking our lungs, the extra oxygen can damage our central nervous system and cause retinal detachment. Also, it is seen that pure oxygen can harm the protein, fat, and DNA of our body. So, breathing pure oxygen like welding oxygen too much is bad for your health.
If you experience any signs of lung collapse or even minor side effects of oxygen toxicity after breathing in some welding oxygen, stop at once. Call in an ambulance to your nearest hospital and seek medical help as soon as possible. Oxygen toxicity is no child’s play and can cause severe harm to your body or even death if you are not careful.
Safety Tips on Using Welding Oxygen
Welding Oxygen is not dangerous as long as you follow some safety measures. Here is what you should know if you are thinking about using welding oxygen for breathing purpose:
- Check the cylinder or tank of welding oxygen. Make sure it has no damage from leakage because chemical or other harmful substances can enter and get mixed with the oxygen. As a result, you will get harmed by inhaling that oxygen.
- When you are going to refill the welding oxygen cylinder, you will be asked to state the purpose of the oxygen. Clearly say your purpose because sometimes the cylinders need an acetylene test.
- Make sure there are no combustible chemicals or materials in the area where you are going to use welding oxygen. Remember, the concentration of oxygen in welding oxygen is for the industrial purpose such as heating. In fact, any level of oxygen can cause an explosion when it comes in contact with explosives.
- If you are using welding gas as oxygen treatment, consult with a doctor about it. Doctors will explain the level of oxygen pressure and concentration needed for patients according to needs and problems.
- Finally, no matter how safe welding oxygen is for breathing, you should use it when medical oxygen is not available.
So, can you breathe welding oxygen? Yes, you can. It’s mostly safe and you can even use it in an emergency situation if you don’t have access to medical grade oxygen cylinders. But, too much of even the best thing can be deadly. And in case of oxygen, it can cause some minor to life threatening issues.
I hope this article was able to educate you on the safety issues and concerns of breathing in pure oxygen like welding oxygen. Be responsible and be smart while using them. Have a grade day.