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Gas Explosions

Gas explosions may result from numerous causes. Gas explosions may be caused by violations of recommended standards, safe practices, or codes. Defective products or a combination of defective products, as well as minimal information regarding safe handling of natural gas or propane, may also cause gas explosions.

Propane has an ignition temperature of 920 to 1120 degrees Fahrenheit, while natural gas has an ignition temperature of 900 to 1170 degrees Fahrenheit. Propane gas settles to low-lying areas because it is heavier than air. Natural gas or methane, on the other hand, tends to rise because it is lighter than air. Both gases are odorless, which makes them very dangerous. For this reason, both gases are required to have an odorant added so that the gases can be detected by smell. In general, one large utility company will service a large geographic area to supply natural gas. Multiple propane companies may cover the same area.

Approximately 26 million people use propane, compared to more than 100 million people who use natural gas. Consider the following figures:

  • You are 4x more likely to be involved in an explosion or fire using propane compared to natural gas
  • You are 13x more likely to be severely injured by propane gas versus natural gas
  • You are more than 100x more likely to be severely injured or killed if there is a product failure using propane versus natural gas

Examples of burn injuries resulting from gasoline spills and explosions:
Sunbeam Recalls ’97-’98 Model Gas Grills for Possible Fire Hazard- 6/18/99

The Sunbeam Corporation announced that it was recalling some of its 1997 and 1998 Grillmaster gas grills with side burners due to possible fire hazard. Only the grills with side burners were recalled, as the gas line on the side burners were located too close to the burner, resulting in melting of the gas line and possible explosion and /or fire risk.

Argon Gas Purifier Explosion- Arizona

A high-pressure argon cylinder (2000 psig) was accidentally connected to a purifier which was designed for lower pressures (250 psig). This resulted in the argon gas purifier exploding. The explosion was essentially a mechanical one; however, the explosion of the purifier resulted in a firestorm. Issues in the case involved the safety and design of the argon purifier, warnings and labeling, the adequacy of instruction manuals and contributory negligence.
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