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Disposable lighter danger


#1

hi all, this is a forward from a safety list where the dangers of
disposable lighters exploding are being discussed. Thought you
might be interested. No comment myself except that I’ve heard and
personally quote stories of lighters exploding and do not recomend
using them as striker replacements unless they are empty, drilled
into to evaporate and remove any fuel left in them. I find they
work handily as strikers this way.

CharlesFrom: “David Gibson” <daveg@fox.nstn.ca
To: hs-canada@kate.ccohs.ca
Subject: Re: HSC: Lighters

To Lorne Kleppe and other interested list members:

Just for fun, and to see what was current on what has to be one of
the oldest “urban myths”, I went to the URL suggested by Gord
Taylor. The following is one of the better postings to that site,
copied here to avoid the need for doing the search. Hope it is
useful.

Dave Gibson
daveg@fox.nstn.ca

Scott Turkle s Re: Re: Propane/butane lighters

From: Scott Turkle sturkle@CNDE.IASTATE.EDU
Subject: Re: Propane/butane lighters

This subject was worried about and denied back in the late 1970’s!
Way back then we determined how minor this was.

At the University that I worked at that time, we measured the
volume of the various lighters to be less than 10 milliliters each
with most brands contained 3 to 6 mls. The total thermal energy
contained in this small amount of propane is low! With NO
comparison to one stick of TNT! Or a gallon of paint thinner,
gasoline or acetone which is in most work areas or homes! It took
a lot of heat from a magnesium fire, blow torch or plumbers torch
to rupture the casing. The plumbers torch took several seconds of
heating. Hot metal or contact with lit matches did not heat the
lighter case enough to rupture it. A person would be very
seriously burned from that amount of heat before the lighter would
rupture and potentially burn them. Once the lighter was ruptured
by direct contact with a fire, we did observe fire balls about 6 to
18 inches in diameter for a portion of a second. And then the fire
was done. The lighter cases can be broken and leak but the propane
leaks out rapidly and disperses. If the lighter was in a pocket,
we felt that most people would have other serious body injuries
from the amount of impact force required. And an ignition source
would have to be very close to their body at the same time to
ignite it before it disperses.

At that time we could not find any documented accidents either!
In all of my years, I still have not heard of a documented
incident! I think we have enough real risks that we need to be
working on that we do not need any contrived risks. But I would
rather have people think about potential risks, ask the questions
and have the risks properly evaluated. The alternative is worse!

Please let me know if anyone has any documented cases.

Sorry this didn’t go to the original poster, I got to quick with
the delete button. Anyway, Lo these many years ago the rumors on
LPG cigarette lighters abounded. This was about 1979/80 era. One
of the rumors said a Union Pacific welder had been killed when his
lighter exploded with “the force of a stick of dynamite.” UP
categorically denied this and did a search of all their facilities
including a subsidiary where I worked (yeah, UP used to own an oil
company). Some research was conducted, I don’t remember by whom,
and it was found that LPG lighters don’t explode when exposed to
heat or flame - they separate into two pieces, the head and the
body, sometimes the body tears into two pieces. In the early 1980’s
while working in Saudi Arabia I heard the same rumors again. This
time I conducted my own research. Attempts were made to
ignite/explode LPG lighters with welding slag, grinder sparks,
throwing them in a fire, and leaving them in a locked car with the
windows up. In none of these instances did we get a flame or
explosion only a cigarette lighter destroyed by over pressure.
Recognize folks, that these experiments were to satisfy MY
curiosity and that of my co-workers, they were not what you
academics would call “scientific” and properly documented. We
kept no notes, filed no reports, and relied on what we could see
and hear (primarily for self-preservation). While I cannot state
unequivocally that LPG lighters do not explode and cause injuries
I can say that in 20+ years I have never seen a case of such in
the media, through the safety pro grapevine, or reported in the
safety press. That’s my dime’s worth. George M. Shirley
WSO-CSM/CSSD Safety Consultant/Trainer/Writer “I didn’t see it, I
didn’t hear it, I didn’t say it.” The three monkeys disclaimer
applies. Voice or fax - (318) 625-8133

Scott Turkle, CIH
IPRT Environmental Health & Safety Specialist
Institute for Physical Research and Technology
Iowa State University
101 ASC III, 1917 Scholl Road
Ames, Iowa 50011
phone (515) 294-3626
e-mail: sturkle@iastate.edu

Gord Taylor wrote:

From: Gord Taylor <gtaylor@MNSi.Net
Subject: Re: HSC: Lighters

Lorne Kleppe wrote:

Assistance Needed I’m gathering any on Lighters ( eg.
Bic) that have caused injury to a worker in a manufacturing
enviroment. Any assistance will be helpful. Thanks.

Lorne: Try this URL" http://gilligan.mc.duke.edu/oem/" and use the
searchable data base for “lighters” There is lots of data. Gord
Taylor CAW Local 1973 Health and Safety Representative

Brain Press
Box 1624, Ste M, Calgary, Alberta, T2P 2L7, Canada
Tel: 403-263-3955 Fax: 403-283-9053 Email: @Charles_Lewton-Brain

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#2

Charles- What a great tip. Can I also use my old Zippo with no fuel
in it? (I gave up smoking 30 years ago, but can’t seem to part with
the old Zippo… this would be a great use for it.)

Janet…Philly