Industrial Breathing

i was wondering if it’s safe to breathe the oxygen tanks you find in hardware stores. the reason i ask is that when you see stores that sell oxygen cylinders for medical supply companies, they dont come filled and they always say you can fill them for $5. i’m assuming that for such a cheap price, it has to be the same place that would fill tanks that would be used in welding.

aside from that, let’s say they are safe to breathe. what health problems would i see besides nausea, passing out, and pneumonia?

http://yarchive.net/med/oxygen_lung_damage.html

So, it looks like the “health problems” would be lung damage if you kept it up for more than a few hours.

Under certain circumstances, spacewalkers breathe pure oxygen for longer periods of time than the typical “oxygen bar” hit, but bear in mind that the astronauts are all in excellent physical condition to begin with, and they’re being closely monitored while they do it.

http://spaceflight.nasa.gov/station/eva/outside.html

Hyperbaric oxygen therapy has you breathing pure oxygen for 20 to 90 minutes, but again, it’s under medical supervision.

Also, I found this.

http://www.c-f-c.com/specgas_products/oxygen.htm

http://www.airproducts.com/maxx/cutting-oxyfueladvice.asp

So it’s possible that that tank of welding oxygen down at the hardware store may be even purer than you realize.
And, um, anytime you’re dealing with pure oxygen, remember that it’s extremely flammable. Apollo 1, yes?
Disclaimer: On behalf of the Straight Dope Message Board, Cecil Adams, the Chicago Reader, its heirs and assigns, I would like to remind you…

DO NOT GO DOWN TO THE HARDWARE STORE AND BUY A TANK OF WELDING OXYGEN AND TRY HUFFING IT AT HOME!!

End of disclaimer. :smiley:

Great post, except for this. Apparently, this isn’t true. I always thought so, too, for the same reason, but see this Link. Obviously, caution is still required, though. :slight_smile:

No fault to DDG, welding oxygen is very chemically pure, but medical oxygen is IIRC supposed to be sterile. No such guarentees on welding gases. A little nitrogen in medical oxygen is no biggie, but bacteria or viral contamination would be ugly.