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OSHA Hazard Information Bulletins
Nitrox-Brand Oxygen Generators


October 16, 1989

MEMORANDUM FOR:

REGIONAL ADMINISTRATORS

THROUGH:

  • LEO CAREY
  • Director
  • Office of Field Programs

FROM:

  • EDWARD BAIER
  • Director
  • Directorate of Technical Support

SUBJECT:

  • Safety Hazard Information Bulletin on Nitrox-Brand Oxygen Generators

The Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) has brought to our attention a potential hazard existing with the use of International Oxygen Co. Nitrox-brand models T-2, T-3, and T-5 oxygen gas generators. CPSC has no jurisdiction over such a product since the product is not available at retail outlets but is only available through factory sales. These devices use a regenerative absorbent material, typically zeolite, in sieve beds to remove nitrogen gas from supplied air, thereby producing relatively pure oxygen gas. Zeolite compounds are crystalline aluminum silicates with large internal pore volumes which are capable of holding active ionic and metallic species. The compounds are considered to be nuisance dust.

A complaint was lodged with the CPSC by a former employee of International Oxygen who stated that plastic sieve beds containing zeolite absorbent material used in the oxygen generation may be defective. The plastic can fatigue and fragmentize under pressure and escape the equipment cabinet confines thereby causing personal injury. The former employee stated that the company alerted previous customers of the (larger) Nitrox T-8 and T-10 models about this potential problem via telephone. Subsequent repairs were made with the substitution of steel sieve beds for the plastic beds.

The former employee then stated in a letter to International Oxygen that a model T-2 sieve bed blew up at a muffler repair shop in January 1989, with no resulting injury but with a plastic projectile penetrating the shop's drywall ceiling. He volunteered that efforts have been undertaken to inform purchasers of T-2, T-3, and T-5 models of the potential problem.

During the past few months, we have been trying to obtain written documentation from International Oxygen regarding possible forthcoming customer alerts. The company president had advised us that such letters would be sent to the smaller model purchasers. Recently the former employee informed us via a telephone conversation that International Oxygen is now involved in bankruptcy proceedings. Since some units with plastic sieves may still be in use, CSHOs and Consultants should be informed of the hazard.

Please distribute this bulletin to all Area Offices, State Plan States and Consultation Projects.

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