Journal List > Korean J Leg Med > v.39(3) > 1087975

Park, Kwon, Kim, and Choi: [secondary publication] Asphyxia due to Oxygen Deficiency by Evaporated Liquid Nitrogen


An 18-year-old man collapsed at his workplace while putting desiccant into a cylindrical mixer, 2 m 1 m in dimension, which contained rubber powder. His coworker found him collapsed, and he was transported to a hospital by a 119 rescue team, where he died. Prior to the incident, liquid nitrogen had been placed into the mixer to lower the temperature of the rubber powder. There were no injuries or disease that could have caused death. Analysis of the gas in the mixer revealed that the O2 concentration had dropped to 3.7% in 2 minutes following addition of the liquid nitrogen. Therefore, it was concluded that the cause of death was asphyxia due to oxygen deficiency caused by liquid nitrogen evaporation.


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Fig. 1.
Opening of the cylindrical mixer.
Table 1.
Effect of oxygen deficiency
Oxygen (%) Effect of deficiency
15-19.5 Decreased ability to perform work
12-15 Increased pulse rate and respiration, impaired perception and judgment
10-12 Further increase in pulse and respiration, giddiness, poor judgement, blue lips
8-10 Mental failure, nausea, fainting, vomiting, unconsciousness
6-8 8 min, 100% fatalities; 6 min, 50% fatalities; 4-5 min, recovery expected
<6 Coma in 40 sec, convulsions, breathing stops, death
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