Accident Description

Accident: Hazards of Nitrogen Asphyxiation

Location: Location: ,

Accident Occurred On: 06/25/2003 | Final Report Released On: 06/25/2003

Accident Type: Confined Space / Asphyxiation

Investigation Status: The CSB issued this safety bulletin on June 25, 2003.

Every year people are killed by breathing “air” that contains too little oxygen. Because 78 percent of the air we breathe is nitrogen gas, many people assume that nitrogen is not harmful. However, nitrogen is safe to breathe only when mixed with the appropriate amount of oxygen. These two gases cannot be detected by the sense of smell. A nitrogenenriched environment, which depletes oxygen, can be detected only with special instruments. If the concentration of nitrogen is too high (and oxygen too low), the body becomes oxygen deprived and asphyxiation occurs.