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FDA Warns of Danger of Oxygen Regulator Fires

Fires have occurred due to improper use of plastic crush gaskets between the regulator and cylinder

WEDNESDAY, April 26 (HealthDay News) -- The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has received 12 reports of incidents in which oxygen regulators used with oxygen cylinders have exploded or burned, in some cases causing injury. The accidents appear to be caused by re-use of plastic crush gaskets designed for single use, resulting in an improper seal and oxygen leakage, according to the FDA and the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH).

"FDA and NIOSH recommend that plastic crush gaskets never be re-used, as they may require additional torque to obtain the necessary seal with each subsequent use," according to an FDA statement. "This can deform the gasket, increasing the likelihood that oxygen will leak around the seal and ignite."

Washers known as CGA 870 seals are commonly used at the interface between the cylinder valve and regulator. One type is a metal-bound elastomeric sealing washer designed for multiple use, while the other is a plastic (usually nylon) crush gasket designed for single use, according to the FDA.

If plastic crush gaskets, which are often supplied free with oxygen cylinders, are re-used, hand wrenches or other tools are often used to tighten the seal. However, this practice can damage the crush gasket, cylinder valve and regulator, which can cause leaks. For more information on proper use of cylinder seals, please visit the FDA's Web site.

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