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Acetylene poisoning ?

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Acetylene is only dangerous for its flammability and if we forget to breathe oxygen. Acetylene is (or was?) used in medical anesthesiology. So, it can't be all that bad to either the lungs or the skin.

There's more to the story.

Acetylene comes to us stored in cylinders filled with liquid acetone - the diluted stuff used for removing nail polish. Now, acetone is an irritant, I think it is even toxic and what it mostly does is quickly irritate the skin to a red dermatitis. Ah ha, we have a clue. The first cure is as simple as soap and water.

Are you making super sure you maintain vertical position for the acetylene bottles both during use and anytime before use? If there is a leak in your torch assembly then there is a problem. Liquids like penetrating oil go through the tiniest cracks to smear the surfaces you touch with your hand.

Also, keep the acetylene valve on the tank closed at all off times. Shaking the bottle easily spills the acetone into the hose assembly. Keeping the bottle out of cooking hot vans is also helpful at keeping the acetone inside the cylinder. And of course, don't work with faulty equipment.

For more, read up on MSDS documentation about both acetone and acetylene. I hope I helped you in finding the problem.

Comments

  • Unknown
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    Was working the other day

    and the torch handle musta been leakng - my hand turned a rusty red from prolonged exposure to the gas .

    This used to happen alot with my old co. because we kept everything till it physically didn't function anymore .

    Before I get the snappy rosie palm potshots :) , is there any adverse effects to acetylene absorption through the skin ?
  • hr
    hr Member Posts: 6,106
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    Yikes!

    be careful. I had a leaker like that once that I couldn't part with. Until the leak at the handle ignited one day. A little actylene goes a long way, as the smell would indicate.

    I'm not sure of any long term exposure harm?? Probably no worse the solder flux PVC cement and various pipe dopes.

    hot rod

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  • Unknown
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    It happens

    every few years - the handle goes up in flames . Usually without any warning ( no smell of unburnt gas ) .

    I didn't think there'd be longterm effects either . Just wondering what happens while the skin is still red . The redness disappears overnight . Thanks Hot Rod .
  • Larry (from OSHA)
    Larry (from OSHA) Member Posts: 717
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    msds

    It seems that exposing your hand to acetylene gas is only an irritant, if that. The liquid can cause frostbite and you know what happens if it ignites in your hand!

    Here is an MSDS. Print it out and keep it for future reference.

    Larry
  • Unknown
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    Larry......

    Hi Larry, any perchance that I'll see ya in Minnesota this sept?
  • Larry (from OSHA)
    Larry (from OSHA) Member Posts: 717
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    sure

    what's in september?
  • Dale
    Dale Member Posts: 1,317
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    liver?

    Yikes Ron, sure a good thing that it didn't ignite. As to the odor, well, our noses lose sense of smell really quick when exposed to odorized gasses. Reason why propane leaks in basements are so dangerous, mechanic thinks no smell = no propane after working on a leak. H2S sewer gas is the worst. As to acetylene, I met a guy years ago who flame straightened I beams, a real art. He had the helper put the rosebud torch on the beam to do the job. He couldn't use the torch anymore because he was now allergic to acetylene, just too many years of the stuff going into the liver a little at a time. Knew a truck driver instructor who became allergic to diesel fuel or exhaust, made his skin break out. Old MEK solvent was like this, one day you are ok next day and for the rest of your life you break out if even near a vapor. Strange. So, since you use the torch a lot, soap test the fittings on a regular basis and trust the fresh nose that comes onto the job site and otherwise take care of yourself.
  • Douglas Hicks
    Douglas Hicks Member Posts: 69
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    In a former life, I worked in an automotive parts house. We were told and told others not to lay an acetylene tank down. If the tank was layed down, to set it upright for an equal time.

    fireguy
  • Larry (from OSHA)
    Larry (from OSHA) Member Posts: 717
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    absolutely

    correct.

    you end up with liquid in the lines and that is something you don't want.
  • Unknown
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    Thanks guys

    Just making sure I didn't do any more damage to my body - physical or mental .

    We always transport our tanks standing up . The torch in question wasn't mine . It could've been leaking a good long time . My partmer wears latex gloves and the gas doesn't get past 'em . It has to be a very slow leak for it not to ignite . Soldering 40 or more fittings a day , this is one tool we want to be cautious with at all times .
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