Washington, DC, August 30, 2016 — After the fatal explosion at the Airgas facility in Florida, an investigative team from the U.S. Chemical Safety Board (CSB) is deploying to the scene. The Airgas facility is located next to the Ascend Performance Materials plant in Cantonment, Florida, outside Pensacola. The facility has a chemical manufacturing plant for nitrous oxide, using materials supplied by the nearby Ascend plant.
The incident occurred on Sunday, August 28, 2016. According to initial inquiries, the explosion involved nitrous oxide tanks in the loading bay, where the incident is said to have taken place.
The investigative team will be led by Investigator-in-Charge Dan Tillema. Chairperson Vanessa Sutherland said, “Our condolences to the family suffering this tragic loss. The CSB’s accident investigation will determine the root cause of this fatal incident.”
Nitrous Oxide (Chemical formula N2O) also known as Laughing Gas is used as an anaesthetic gas in hospitals an clinics. High concentrations cause a narcotic effect and may replace oxygen, causing death by asphyxia. Nitrous oxide is also used as a food aerosol in the preparation of whipping cream.Nitrous oxide is a colorless, sweet-tasting gas.Continued breathing of the vapors may impair the decision making process. It is noncombustible but it will accelerate the burning of combustible material in a fire. It is soluble in water. Its vapors are heavier than air.
— C&EN (@cenmag) September 2, 2016