Industrial oxygen cylinders or inert gas cylinders can be converted to medical oxygen cylinders.
According to The New York Times, there is no difference between industrial and medical oxygen. The chief of the Airsep Corporation of Buffalo, Ravi K. Bansal, told NYTimes in 2007 that both cylinder contents come from the same root and are produced the same way. However, to sell industrial oxygen for medical purposes, specific regulations must be followed to ensure that the oxygen is adequately dispensed into the cylinders. Another important reason is to trace and track them in the event of a batch recall.
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Indian government issued an order on April 22, 2020, permitting the conversion of industrial oxygen cylinders and inert gas cylinders (nitrogen, argon, and helium) to medical oxygen for usage in the medical field. This step was taken to ensure an uninterrupted supply of oxygen to the COVID-19 hospitals across the country. The Petroleum and Explosives Safety Organisation listed standard operating procedures for the conversion. It includes degassing the cylinders entirely, cleaning them with detergents, filling them with water/warm water, draining and drying them, etc.
Amid the second wave of COVID-19, a shortage of medical oxygen was observed across India. Many COVID-19 patients died due to the unavailability of medical oxygen, India Today reported on April 21, 2021.
Reliance Industries started readapting oxygen facilities in Jamnagar, Gujarat, to produce 700 MT/day of medical oxygen. The facility can produce almost 100Mt/ day, which is to be upgraded to 1000MT/day. Also, the government has stopped the oxygen supply for industrial purposes from April 22, 2021.
Hence, it is safe to switch industrial oxygen cylinders to medical oxygen, adhering to all the standard procedures.
The COVID-19 pandemic has given rise to a lot of potentially dangerous misinformation. For reliable advice on COVID-19 including symptoms, prevention and available treatment, please refer to the World Health Organisation or your national healthcare authority.