Equipment, experiments, and people often get dirty—a lab bench covered with cement dust, a drill press clogged with metal shavings, wet glassware that needs drying, or even a researcher covered with sawdust after cutting a wooden part. Some people look to the compressed air tap or cylinder in the lab as a quick way to clean off.
Did you know this can kill?
Even a relatively low-pressure stream of air can propel chips, dust, and parts through the air at high velocity; the flow from a 20psi air line can be supersonic. If this material strikes someone, it can cause serious injury. If the injury is to the eye, the victim may be permanently blinded.
Even worse, a few tens of psi pressure can easily inject air beneath the skin, inflating body parts like balloons—and causing excruciating pain. If air reaches the bloodstream, it can cause air embolisms—blockages in narrow blood vessels—as well as clots & ruptures in vital areas such as the brain. Uncontrolled air injection can be deadly.
Read tips for safely handling compressed air at Compressed air misuse.