Dealing with the unnerving

Facts about Nitrous oxide

Nitrous oxide (N2O) is a clear, colorless, oxidizing liquefied gas with a slightly sweet odor. The product is stable at room temperature. While classified by the U. S. Department of Transportation (DOT) as a nonflammable gas, nitrous oxide will support combustion and can detonate at temperatures in excess of 650 °C (1202 °F). Contact your supplier to obtain a nitrous oxide Safety Data Sheet (SDS) for information on the safe handling and security of this product.

What are the principal applications of nitrous oxide?

Nitrous oxide finds beneficial use in a number of legitimate applications such as:

  • Medical/dental anesthesia and analgesia
  • Food processing propellant
  • Semiconductor manufacturing
  • Analytical chemistry
  • Chemical manufacturing
  • Auto racing engine injection

Nitrous oxide is blended with oxygen when used in anesthesia applications. Pure nitrous oxide will cause asphyxiation, resulting ultimately in respiratory arrest. Nitrous oxide in auto racing applications is denatured to deter inhalation.

Nitrous oxide, used in food propellant applications, is typically supplied to commercial packagers of pressurized food dispensing containers.

Effects of nitrous oxide on the human body

Nitrous oxide's painkilling and numbing qualities begin to take effect when the gas is inhaled at concentrations of 10 percent. At increasingly higher concentrations, a sense of well-being, or "high, " is experienced. A person experiencing a nitrous oxide high could:

  • Have slurred speech
  • Have difficulty in maintaining his or her balance or walking
  • Be slow to respond to questions
  • Be immune to any stimulus such as pain, loud noises, and speech
  • Lapse into unconsciousness

Nitrous oxide that is inhaled over a long period of time can lead to a vitamin B12 deficiency. When the level of vitamin B12 in the body is reduced, the red blood cell count is lowered, anemia results, and nerves degenerate. A vitamin B12 deficiency causes a person to; have painful sensations in the arms or legs; have an unsteady walk or gait; become unbalanced and tend to fall over; feel or appear to be irritable; suffer intellectual deterioration.

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