Campus Toxic Gas Program

toxic gas


The University of Washington Toxic Gas Program requires specific authorization to procure and specifies minimum requirements for safe storage, use, and handling of toxic gas. Toxic gases, for the purpose of this program, are gases that may cause significant acute health effects at low concentrations. Health effects may include severe skin or eye irritation, pulmonary edema, neurotoxicity, or other potentially fatal conditions. The criteria used to establish the list for this policy is a National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) health rating of 3 or 4 or equivalent hazard rating. See the Toxic Gases List ( PDF ) for examples of toxic gases. Mixtures with these gases may also be considered to be toxic.

Approval Process

The approval process applies to new uses of toxic gases, as well as changes in volume, use, or location for existing uses. As of November 1, 2009, all toxic gases must be purchased or rented through the university's eProcurement Web site. This restricts procurement to authorized users and ensures the cylinders come from suppliers that have a return authorization program. The Purchasing Process is diagrammed here ( PDF ). The toxic gas user shall first enter their purchase request through eProcurement by selecting Praxair as the vendor. The requisition is then routed to the user’s department for approval. Once approved the requisition is routed to EH&S for approval. EH&S will then contact the toxic gas user to discuss safety issues related to the proposed use. The evaluation may involve interviewing the gas user or laboratory safety officer, a laboratory visit, evaluation of a laboratory gas release, and assuring that specific requirements are met for safe storage and use. Once approved, purchase requests for a replacement gas cylinder will be approved without a field visit if there has been no change in storage and use.

Following evaluation and correcting any outstanding issues, EH&S will approve the purchase request through the eProcurement system and the order will be sent to Praxair. If not approved, EH&S will notify the toxic gas user of specific deficiencies and will work with the toxic gas user to implement any needed safety modifications. In some cases a new requisition may need to be entered.

Coordination for Delivery

The user must coordinate with the vender for delivery so that the gas is not left unattended until it reaches its end-use location. Compressed toxic gases may not be stored on loading docks or other temporary locations unless specifically approved by EH&S.

Conditions for Approval

The following outlines some of the conditions that apply to store and use toxic gases in university buildings:

  • Storage and use is limited to laboratory and similar spaces with a ventilation system that is not recirculating
  • Highly toxic cylinders must be stored in a gas cabinet, ventilated enclosure or fume hood
  • The room air pressure must be balanced to be negative to non-lab areas.
  • The room must be secured when not occupied
  • Obtain/revise your Hazardous Materials Permit from the Seattle Fire Department
  • Update your inventory in MYCHEM
  • Quantities must conform to limits of the Fire Code
  • Order cylinders with restriction orifice when practical
  • Cylinders should be secured
  • Manifold, piping and apparatus materials must be compatible with the gas
  • A Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) must be developed outlining how the material will be used and what to do in the event of an emergency


For assistance please contact:
  Fire Prevention and Life Safety Specialist
  Building and Fire Safety , Box 354400
  Environmental Health and Safety

  (206) 543-0465