Ventilation Failure Causes Toxic Gas Detection due to Cross Sensitivity of Exhaust By-Products
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Type:  Lessons Learned

Publisher:  Brookhaven National Laboratory, Upton, NY

Published As:  Public

Date: 

Topics:  Chemical Safety, Emergency Management, Operations, Laboratory

Due to extreme cold night time temperatures, the Center For Functional Nanomaterials building experienced a ventilation system failure affecting the ventilation in the Clean Room resulting in the interlocking of the toxic gas supplies and an associated reactive ion etcher. During the afternoon of the, the reactive ion etcher that does not use toxic gas, the Oxford F, was operated by a user and resulted in the detection of chlorine. However, because both of the etcher exhaust systems are connected, the decomposed sulfur hexafluoride caused the chlorine detector installed in the laboratory to alarm.

Understanding the cross sensitivity of gas detection systems in advance helps to avoid triggering a false alarm and or a potentially dangerous outcome. Continuing to use chemical fume hoods while in an alarm state without investigating the reason for the alarm can lead to a potentially dangerous outcome. Investigating and addressing false alarms promptly avoids misinterpreting a true alarm for a false alarm.

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