The reason why you need to worry about gas detection is important, it can save your life! In this blog I want to cover some important gas detection basics. Whether you are new to a job requiring gas detection, own a welding or construction company or maybe you’re starting a new venture opening a small brewery, this blog is full of gas detection basics to help you get started successfully!
What is Gas?
First, we need to understand Gas before we dive into why we need to have gas detection. The name gas comes from the word chaos. Gas is a swarm of molecules moving randomly and chaotically, constantly colliding with each other and anything else around them. Gases fill any available volume and due to the very high speed at which they move will mix rapidly into any atmosphere in which they are released. (Honeywell) In high volumes, gases can be very harmful if inhaled for a longer period of time. For this reason, we need to understand gas types and proper monitoring.
Better Understanding Gas
There are 3 types of gas hazards: flammable, toxic, and asphyxiant. Let’s dive deeper into what each of these are and some examples of the gasses related to each.
Flammable gases have the risk of fire and/or explosion. This gas type includes Methane, Butane & Propane which are commonly found in cars, lawnmowers, grills and gas stoves. Additionally, this gas is found in household appliances with pilot lights such as your furnace or water heater. We’ve heard a few home explosions recently, this was due to faulty appliances leaking higher levels of flammable gas. Make sure you keep up to date on the maintenance of your home and office building appliances!
Toxic gases have the risk of poisoning you, without you knowing! This gas type includes Carbon Monoxide, Hydrogen & Chlorine which are commonly found in natural gas. Though it might be the lightest of gases, Hydrogen is the most abundant and explosive gas, so not to be taken lightly! Some of the gasses are odorless and some have the smell of rotten eggs; in the case of odorless… this is why gas detection is so important.
Asphyxiant gas creates oxygen deficiency. This gas can be caused by displacement, combustion, oxidation, chemical reaction, and bacterial actions.
We all need Oxygen (O2) in air to live, Right? So what level is not enough?
Air is made up of several different gases including Oxygen. Normal ambient air contains an Oxygen concentration of 20.9% v/v. When the Oxygen level falls below 19.5% v/v, the air is considered Oxygen-deficient. Oxygen concentrations below 6% v/v is considered unsafe for humans. (Honeywell)
Can there be too much oxygen? Yes!
Oxygen enrichment can also cause a risk, which is not as commonly considered. Actually, increased O2 levels can create flammability of materials and gases. Furthermore, the higher the O2 enrichment percentage the higher risk there is of flammability. When the O2 in the air you’re breathing reaches a level of 24% or more, items such as clothing can spontaneously combust. This gas is a common risk in industries such as welding, paper & pulp manufacturing, and clean water treatment facilities.
What Happens If I’m Exposed To Toxic Gas?
The longer you are inhaling toxic gas, the worse your symptoms will become. You may experience symptoms such as loss of balance, blurred vision, memory loss and eventually loss of consciousness with exposure. Furthermore, severe toxic fume inhalations, usually accidental due to human error or equipment failure, can result in immediate death from asphyxia or cause mild to severe respiratory distress from acute upper airways inflammation, delayed pulmonary edema, respiratory muscle dysfunction, or a combination of illnesses. (PubMed.gov)
Some gasses are odorless which is why the gas detectors are so important. However, one sign you can be aware of is Hydrogen sulfide has a rotten egg or a sickening sweet odor. And, if you remember from above that’s the most flammable of gases. In short, if you smell rotten eggs…. RUN and get to safety ASAP! It should be noted, don’t turn anything on or off and don’t make any phone calls; they can cause a spark which can result in an explosion. Once you’re safe then make your necessary calls.
Is my job at risk of gases?
Here is a list of the most common industries where gas detection monitors are needed:
- oil & gas: drilling & production
- chemical plants
- power generation (traditional & renewable)
- water treatment
- military & national security
- pulp & paper production
- confined spaces
- ammonia refrigeration
- steel mills
- agriculture & live stock
- commercial buildings & public places (swimming pools, mechanical rooms, etc.)
- laboratory & mechanical
Types of Gas Monitors
In general, these four gas detection monitors below are our most popular sellers. Depending on the industry your in or the job you have we have a solution for you!
First is the Honeywell BW Flex Monitor
Whether you’re protecting workers or first responders in industries from steel and wastewater to paper and pulp the Honeywell BW™ Flex delivers the flexibility you need. Choose from more than 15 sensors to
simultaneously detect up to 4 gas hazards. Here are some Flex “talking points” for you to consider:
- Real-time gas readings at a glance.
- Intelligent Sensors for increased safety & up time. The BW Flex incorporates i-Series intelligent sensors which monitor and provide.
advanced predictive calibration, maintenance and end-of-life information in real-time.
- Simplified gas reporting & analysis. This gas monitor can be paired with a smartphone easily via Bluetooth®. Simply download the Honeywell Safety Suite Device Configurator app. You’ll have quick and precise device management, maintenance, reporting and analysis.
Second is the Honeywell BW Solo Single Gas Monitor
Honeywell BW™ Solo is a easy to service single-gas detector with BLE connectivity that provides real-time visibility into the status and safety of hazardous-area workers, helping companies respond faster, more knowingly and decisively to safety incidents. Here are some BW Solo “talking points” for you to consider:
- User-friendly operation.
- Can detect up to 15 user-selected common and exotic gases.
- Easy-to-read display for multiple languages.
- Lightweight convenience.
- Ease of maintenance.
- Serviceability; can lower long-term ownership cost of a gas monitoring system.
- The new 1-Series sensor for enhanced reliability Connected Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) capabilities Quick Specs.
- High standards of sensor quality and reliability.
- The easiest single-gas detector to service.
- Data from the detector or its docking station is downloadable to a PC.
Third, is the Honeywell BW Gas Alert Micro Clip x3 Multi-Gas Detector
This monitor features easy to use 1-button operation, automatic calibration and integral concussion-proof housing. Large LCD simultaneously displays H2S, CO, O2 and combustible gas concentrations. Rugged, compact and lightweight. You won’t miss gas detection alerts with an audible, visual and internal vibrating alarms with four alarm levels: high, low, TWA and STEL. Equipped with a rechargeable lithium-ion battery that provides your crew up to 18 hours of operation. In addition, battery recharge time is less than 6 hours. IntelliFlash™ provides continuous visual confirmation of detector operation and compliance. Here are some BW Gas Alert Micro Clip “talking points” for you to consider:
- Guaranteed runtime for at least a 12-hour shift – down to -20°C – without compromising LEL detection of hydrogen, acetylene and other combustible gases.
- Durable, rechargeable lithium polymer battery – tested to last in extreme environments.
- Ergonomic and wearable – doesn’t weigh you down.
- Data logging/event logging standard.
- Highly water-resistant.
- Real-time gas concentrations shown on LCD.
- Bright, wide-angle visual alarm bars.
- 3-year warranty.
- IP68 rating ensures maximum protection against dust and water.
- User-friendly, tamper-proof operation with just one button and intuitive LCD icons.
- IntelliFlash™ light indicating detector has been bump tested and is monitoring correctly.
- Self-test of sensors, battery status, circuit integrity and audible/visual alarms on startup.
- Compatible with MicroDock II docking station for automated bump tests and calibration.
- Compatible with Fleet Manager II software for reporting and fleet management.
- Multi-language support in English, French, German, Spanish and Portuguese.
Last, but not least, is the Honeywell BW Single Gas Clip Monitor
Single-gas, zero-maintenance detector operates up to two years maintenance-free: Just turn on the device and it runs continuously — no need for calibration, sensor replacement, battery replacement or battery charging. Here are some BW Solo “talking points” for you to consider:
- Compact, lightweight design with 1-button operation.
- Designed for a range of harsh environments and extreme temperatures.
- Automatically performs one internal diagnostic test every 24 hours.
- Automatic logging of the 35 most recent gas events and bump test results.
- H2S and CO 2-year models can be placed in hibernation when not being used for a week or more to extend life by that period of time, up to a year.
- Wide-angle flash, which alerts simultaneously with audible and vibrating.
Compare to the other gas detection monitors, this one is more affordable and virtually no maintenance. At the 2 year expiration you just replace it. Thus, no need to remember maintenances such as charging, calibrations or sensor replacements.
Learn a little more about Gas Detection and the BW Solo Gas Monitor in Honeywell’s video here:
In conclusion, the hesitation regarding the SPEND of new or multiple monitors should not be worth risking the safety of your crew. Therefore, make the minimal (in comparison) investment of gas monitors. Ensure you and your crew all go home safely tonight!