Toxicity

Hydrogen is non-toxic but can act as a simple asphyxiant by displacing the oxygen in the air. Oxygen levels below 19.5% are biologically inactive for humans. Effects of oxygen deficiency may include rapid breathing, diminished mental alertness, impaired muscular coordination, faulty judgement, depression of all sensations, emotional instability and fatigue. As asphyxiation progresses, dizziness, nausea, vomiting, prostration and loss of consciousness may result, eventually leading to convulsions, coma and death. At concentrations below 12%, immediate unconsciousness may occur with no prior warning symptoms. In an enclosed area, small leaks pose little danger of asphyxiation whereas large leaks can be a serious problem since the hydrogen diffuses quickly to fill the volume. The potential for asphyxiation in unconfined areas is almost negligible due to the high buoyancy and diffusivity of hydrogen.

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