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Nitrous Oxide - Gas Profile

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Nitrous Oxide UK Exposure Limits
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Nitrous Oxide (N2O) is a colourless gas used to induce drowsiness and pain relief and make people feel drunk or high. Dentists and medical professionals routinely use it to sedate patients undergoing minor medical operations. When used as a propellant for whipped cream, it is also a culinary additive, and it is utilised in the automobile industry to improve engine performance.


Infertility can result from long-term exposure. Liquid nitrous oxide exposure can result in severe frostbite. Exposure to nitrous oxide may cause injury to workers. The amount of exposure is determined by the dose, duration, and type of job. Outwith a working setting, many people use it recreationally. Despite being legal to possess Nitrous Oxide in the UK it is strongly advised to not use Nitrous Oxide recreationally. For a brief amount of time, inhaling nitrous oxide causes a surge of exhilaration and a sensation of floating or excitement. Nitrous Oxide can cause sedation, giddiness, confusion, uncoordinated movements, and in extreme cases, death. 

Fun Fact – Nitrous Oxide is commonly known as 'laughing gas'

Nitrous Oxide gas used in application

Applications used in

  • Sedation / Pain Relief
  • Chemical Fertilisers
  • Food Propellant 

The following are some instances of workers who may be exposed to nitrous oxide: Personnel who work in operating rooms at hospitals, surgery centres, or medical practises; Dental professionals that use nitrous oxide as an anaesthesia; Personnel in the recovery room who are exposed to outgassing patients after surgery; Workers at laboratories and facilities that handle and store compressed gas cylinders; Cleaning and maintaining surgical rooms before and after procedures.

If you work in an industry that uses nitrous oxide, read the chemical labels and the Safety Data Sheet that comes with it to learn about the hazards, before putting yourself or others at risk.