Compressed gases and liquids are used for a variety of purposes at Vanderbilt University Medical Center.  Some examples include: 

  • Medical gases are supplied via ports in the walls in clinical settings, and portable medical gas cylinders are also used during patient transport.
  • Compressed liquids are used to cool the magnets used in the MRI facilities.
  • Compressed gases and liquids are used in the clinical and research laboratories.

Compressed Gas & Liquid Hazards

Compressed gases and liquids pose several special hazards:  

  • Projectile:  If a compressed gas or liquid cylinder ruptures or if the cap is knocked loose, the cylinder turns into a very dangerous projectile that can cause serious injury and damage.  For this reason alone, it is very important to always keep cylinders secured.
  • Oxygen Displacement:  When large containers are ruptured, the contents are released with such force that breathable oxygen is actually forced out of a room.  This is especially hazardous in small rooms or areas where very large volumes of compressed liquids are used, such as in an MRI facility.
  • Fire: Some gases are flammable, and some gases are oxidizers, which promote fire through the release of oxygen.  If an acetylene gas cylinder ruptures, it is both a hazardous projectile and a fire hazard.


The "Medical Gas Safety & Emergency Response for System Failures" training course is available for medical center staff online in the VUMC Learning Exchange Login Required

The "Chemical & Physical Safety in the Lab Lesson" includes safety training information about compressed gases and liquids, and is also available online in both the VUMC Login Required and VU Login Required Learning Exchange. 

Additional Resources


If you have questions about compressed gases or liquids, please contact someone in the OCRS Hospital & Clinic Safety Section or, if you work in a laboratory, contact someone in the OCRS Chemical & Laboratory Safety Section.