Evaluation of a Mitigation Procedure for Small Liquid Oxygen (LOX) Spills

This page may contain links to non-U.S. government websites. What this means to you »

By Craig H. Kampmier

The problem was the current procedure for mitigating small spills of liquid oxygen (LOX) inside a hospital building had not been tested to determine the procedure's effectiveness. The hypothesis being, if LOX on asphalt has been shown to be impact sensitive, then LOX on a floor tile surface will contact the tile's underlying petroleum-based adhesive through the seams or cracks of adjoining floor tiles, creating an impact-sensitive condition until mitigated. The absence in literature of a mitigation procedure for small LOX spills that could occur with portable LOX respiratory therapy equipment prompted the Kent County Memorial Hospital to develop a spill procedure.

The purpose of the research was to develop and conduct a controlled LOX spill test experiment to determine the procedure's effectiveness. The research sought answers to the following questions:

  1. What experiment has to be developed?
  2. What was the outcome of the experiment?
  3. What is the outcome's relationship to the spill procedure?

The hazards and properties of LOX were reviewed, as were the spill procedures associated with transportation vehicles and stationary bulk systems. Actual incidents and testing mediums used to establish this information concerning LOX were used in determining and developing any experiment to evaluate the small LOX spill's mitigation procedure effectiveness.

The research results concluded that the perceived hazardous condition could not be achieved under test conditions. A procedure addressing mitigation of a small liquid spill of LOX from portable respiratory therapy equipment (Puritan-Bennett MARK 5 Walker) on a vinyl composition floor tile with a petroleum-based adhesive is not required.

Recommendations pursuant to the experiment's results provide for the further research of potential LOX incidents. LOX, in association with residential respiratory therapy, should be recognized in future reference materials written for safety professionals and emergency response organizations.