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Here's why you don't store gas cylinders in your car

By Andrew Pollack on 04/06/2004 at 08:54 AM EDT

Acetylene gas has a lower flamable limit of 2.5% and an upper flamable limit of 100% (it will burn underwater). If that doesn't convince you not to store it carefully, consider this case from Newcastle, Maine. An "E" size cylinder was left in the cab of a small truck over the weekend. When the door was opened, a spart from the dome light, the man's mobile phone, static electricity, or the man's mobile phone (the least likely) caused the accumulated gas to combust in the enclosed space. The man was not killed but did suffer damage to his face and hearing. He was extremely lucky.

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I've got one -By Carolyn on 06/23/2004 at 11:21 AM EDT
I have a Methyl Acetylene Propadiene torch collecting dust on top of a book shelf in my office. Two questions: 1 - What's the shelf life of this type of torch? 2 - How do I dispose of it when I no longer want it?
A great question! Here's the answers....By Andrew Pollack on 06/23/2004 at 11:21 AM EDT
First of all, any time you have a chemical and you're not sure what to do about it, do a web search using the chemical's name or trade name, and "MSDS" -- which stands for "Materials Safety Data Sheet". An MSDS is required on site at a business that uses anything that could be considered a hazzard; as well as on the trucks that move it. For yours, I found one from BOC Gasses -- I have no way to know if that is who made yours, but it should suffice. Basically, its a mixture of not quite half and half LP (Liquified Petroleum -- like your backyard grill) and half Methyl Acetylene-Propadiene (Commonly called "Mapp Gas"). Because its a mixture, its not quite as dangerous as pure acetylene. It's UEL (Upper explosive limit) is 11.0, but because its lower explosive limit is only 3.0 you should be pretty careful with this stuff. If it leaks, at anything from 3% to 11% by volume in air it will readily ignite. For disposal, your best bet is to get it to the place who sold it to you, or contact your local fire department and ask them. Procedures will vary. I don't recommend leaving it in the car though.

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