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What is the Difference Between Medical Oxygen and Industrial Oxygen? How to Assure the Qualified Medical Oxygen?

Industrial oxygen, which literally means oxygen used for industrial production and product processing, has low quality requirements. Generally, it is qualified if the purity is more than 99%. The industry implements the national recommended standards, and the detection indicators are only oxygen content and moisture content. The so-called national recommended standards are relative to national mandatory standards, which the state requires relevant departments, units and individuals to implement by administrative orders and legal provisions; The recommended standard is market-oriented, which encourages enterprises to adopt it voluntarily and may not be implemented, but it may affect economic benefits. It is the minimum requirement of the state for enterprises. This paves the way for industrial oxygen to flow outside the field. This may be an institutional loophole. It’s time to upgrade the recommended standards that have been used for nearly 20 years. After becoming mandatory standards, it will further strengthen the authority of the law and eliminate the fluke mentality of production enterprises.

Medical oxygen is the oxygen for clinical medical use, commonly known as dry oxygen. It is mainly used to prevent and treat patients’ hypoxia, such as respiratory muscle paralysis, drowning, shock caused by carbon monoxide and so on. Medical oxygen is a special circulating commodity with high purity, colorless, tasteless and no harmful impurities. In 1988, the State Bureau of technical supervision promulgated the national mandatory standard for medical oxygen. But medical oxygen is not only a commodity, but also a drug. The 2000 edition of Chinese Pharmacopoeia contains the medicinal standards of medical oxygen, and implements the drug approval number and license management system for its production. The 2005 edition of Chinese Pharmacopoeia stipulates the mandatory national standard for medical oxygen, and takes the gaseous and liquid oxygen prepared by separating air by low temperature method (also known as cryogenic method) as the object to determine the test items, including oxygen content, moisture content, carbon dioxide content, carbon monoxide content, gaseous acid and alkaline substance content, ozone and other gaseous oxides, odor, etc, The oxygen content shall not be less than 99.5%. Meanwhile, harmful gases and impurities such as carbon monoxide and carbon dioxide must be filtered during production.

How much harm does the use of industrial oxygen instead of medical oxygen do to the human body? After searching the relevant research literature, there is no summary of clinical cases and no experimental animal research. It is only generally said that in the process of industrial oxygen compression filling, acidic or alkaline lubricating water formed by the mixing of water and other impurities is often mixed and remains in the cylinder. The loss over time may lead to the corrosion of the inner wall of the cylinder and the generation of additional gas impurities. The piston sealing material in the oxygen compressor may also produce some harmful gas impurities and powder mechanical impurities during the operation of the machine. In this way, there will be impurities that are extremely harmful to the human body in industrial oxygen. Once the human body inhales too much, it will cause or aggravate the diseases of the respiratory system, and in serious cases, it will cause the death of patients. However, these harmful consequences are not based on industrial oxygen research, but based on other research results, but do not deny the potential possibility of these hazards, but lack of scientific and quantitative experimental or clinical data to support these views.

The national standard of medical oxygen and the Chinese Pharmacopoeia stipulate that the medical oxygen content shall not be less than 99.5%, which does not mean that oxygen with an oxygen content less than 99.5% cannot be used for prevention and treatment. Before 1988, industrial oxygen was a legal medical oxygen commodity, which blossomed everywhere in the country. It was found in every hospital, and indeed saved many people’s lives. But it can’t be because it was and is still legal. Especially with the development of science and technology, it is capable of replacing industrial oxygen with medical oxygen with less potential harm. Industrial oxygen should not be allowed to hold the benchmark of the past and measure the current health.

Clinical experiments have proved that the oxygen content of medical oxygen in human respiration and physiology can meet the prevention and treatment as long as it is greater than 90%, but why does our national standard strictly require the oxygen content ≥ 99.5%? The reason is that the national standards of medical oxygen content are determined based on the oxygen prepared by cryogenic separation of air. Medical oxygen prepared by cryogenic separation of air is composed of water, carbon dioxide, carbon monoxide, gaseous acids and bases, ozone and other gaseous oxides harmful to human body in addition to oxygen. If the oxygen content is lower than 99.5%, the content of these harmful components will increase, which will endanger human health. Therefore, the oxygen content of medical oxygen made by cryogenic separation of air shall not be less than 99.5%. The formulation of standards is only to minimize harmful components as much as possible, but it can not absolutely eliminate harmful components.

From here, we can clearly know that the key to determine whether oxygen can be used in medical care is that the content of harmful components in oxygen cannot exceed the standard value of the national pharmacopoeia. If industrial oxygen is produced in accordance with GMP, it can also be used for medical treatment. But this violates the law, and the two must be produced separately. The current situation in our country is that many enterprises produce both at the same time, which is also caused by inadequate supervision.

In fact, when medical institutions use oxygen for treatment of patients, the terminal oxygen content is more than 99.5% of medical oxygen. Generally, according to the needs of the patient’s condition, a certain amount of air is filled into pure oxygen to dilute and reduce the oxygen content, so as to avoid oxygen poisoning. Scientific experiments have proved that if people are in a pure oxygen environment of half atmospheric pressure, oxygen has a toxic effect on all human cells, which can lead to pulmonary edema, pulmonary congestion and bleeding, seriously affect respiratory function and damage all human organs. Beyond the limit that the human body needs oxygen, oxygen will also endanger life, ranging from disability to death. It can be seen from here that if medical oxygen is not used correctly, it may also lead to serious consequences.

In the production process of most oxygen in China, the oxygen produced is of high purity. Only in the sub packaging process, the so-called “medical oxygen” and “industrial oxygen” appear due to different requirements for moisture, impurities and other gas contents. To meet the quality requirements of the Pharmacopoeia and use a special oxygen filling device for sub packaging of oxygen is “medical oxygen”, otherwise it is “industrial oxygen”. In other words, there is no difference in the production between medical oxygen and industrial oxygen, but the final “finished product” is different due to different requirements and sub packaging equipment in sub packaging. In addition, steel cylinders filled with “medical oxygen” shall be inspected every three years, and processes such as cleaning, heating, drying and evacuation shall be carried out; Operators shall have a physical examination every year to eliminate infectious diseases. Industrial oxygen has no such requirements. If there are no strict requirements for medical oxygen production, filling and cylinder treatment, it will also become industrial oxygen. It seems that the boundary between the two lies in the difference between inspection indicators and production standards, which leads to their separation, and the results will be completely differentiated.

To summarize, the critical factor to assure the quality of medical oxygen lies in its delivery and storage, rather than production. Compared with compressed oxygen cylinder, microbulk tanks use liquid oxygen and can assure the purity. Moreover, Victank microbulk tanks enjoy the following benefits:
It is an on-site filling solution for gas cylinder users.
The charge loss is low or even zero.
Longer liquid gas hold times.
Extraordinary thermal quality assures very little gas loss.
The boost speed is fast and the gas flow is large.
Quick recharge to save time and reduce costs.
Multiple pressures, different volumes, more choices.
Brand valves HEROSE, REGO, accessories, high reliability.
Small footprint, convenient transportation, simple installation.
Less operation and maintenance needed.