There are no two ways about it, gas is a silent killer and you have to be extremely vigilant at all times and continually monitor gas levels in order to keep everyone in the building as safe as possible.
Monitoring the air quality
Being able to successfully monitor the air for any potential gas leaks requires a basic level of training and a good understanding of the dangers that it represents.
There are basically three components to effective gas monitoring and having someone present who is trained and knows how to use gas monitors correctly, could make a crucial difference to a hazardous situation.
The first aspect of training is technique, which means having a good grounding on how to use monitoring equipment properly and effectively.
Secondly, it is important that you have the right monitoring equipment for the job so that you are able to carry out a comprehensive and reliable check of gas levels in the building.
The third element is simply being able to apply this knowledge and technique to be able to use air-monitoring and radiation-detection equipment correctly and to subsequently be able to make sound decisions based on your interpretation of the readings.
The need for monitoring
The sole purpose of air monitoring is to detect a dangerous atmosphere due to the presence of gas or radiation.
Firefighters are routinely charged with inspecting buildings that may have harmless levels of carbon monoxide (CO) in the air, which is impossible to detect without equipment due to the fact that it is colorless and odorless.
Industrial buildings and sites may have a situation where phosphine gas, hydrogen sulfide or hydrogen cyanide could have been generated in an enclosed area and there is also the potential danger from leaking cylinders or unexpected vapor release.
There are numerous dangerous scenarios that could incur involving forms of toxic gases which can result in a dangerous level of oxygen deficiency and a potentially flammable atmosphere.
This is why monitoring equipment is essential in order to keep the occupants of a building safe at all times.
Advancements in technology
It is encouraging to note that air monitoring technology has moved on rapidly over the last decade and some very sophisticated and accurate monitoring equipment is now readily available to help identify even minor gas leaks.
Firefighters for example, are routinely equipped with equipment that gives them the ability to detect almost every known chemical down to the minutest part-per-billion levels.
Gas chromatography mass spectrometry detection instruments can detect airborne and aqueous contaminants within just a few minutes. Paradoxically, despite these advancements in technology, you might also still see pH paper (Litmus) still being used also for identify the presence of hydrogen chloride for example.
All the tools both old and new, are now at our disposal, so the issue is simply ensuring that the monitoring equipment and methods are effective.
Understanding the science
The art of being able to accurately detect the presence of any potentially hazardous gases in the atmosphere is primarily down to a good understanding of the science and behavior of gases combined with a good technique for using the monitoring equipment.
Certain gas such as ammonia, hydrogen and methane are more inclined to rise as they are very light gases, whereas some other forms of gases are heavier and more inclined to sink.
This knowledge is crucial when trying to detect the presence of a particular gas and would require monitoring at a higher or lower level depending on what you are searching for.
If you are unsure as to what gas leak you are searching for, you would of course need to monitor all levels in order the possible scenario of a gas hazard going undetected.
Regular use of monitoring equipment
To be fully effective, monitoring needs to be conducted both routinely and systematically.
Aim to ensure that as many workers as possible receive the sufficient level of training on how to use the gas monitoring equipment correctly and that also means have a good level of understanding on how to interpret the readings.
Another important factor to be aware of is that despite the high level of accuracy you can get form monitoring equipment these days, some sensors on monitoring equipment do not produce an automatic reading.
You need to be aware of any limitations or delays when using the equipment so that you can allow enough time for a response and a reading, before moving forward into a potentially hazardous area.
Being able to identify the invisible danger of gas is all about having the right monitoring equipment and training, so make sure you are tooled up and ready to ensure that the building is safe at all times.
Gas Clip Technologies has assigned Chad Bilger to the regional sales manager position for the Gulf South region covering from Corpus Christi, Texas, to the Florida border along the coast. His experience in gas detection comes from previously being a service tech and inside sales rep with Gas Clip Technologies before moving to outside sales.