Talk:Inert gas asphyxiation

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Asphyxiation 2007[edit]

Asphyxiation is not caused by an increase in CO2; it is due to tissue hypoxia (not enough oxygen reaching the tissue). A buildup in CO2 can cause deep sedation to occur and proceed to death if it is not corrected. This condition is known as CO2 narcosis. The patient may or may not experience discomfort. Although our primary drive to breathe is CO2, if the oxygen level in the blood drops to a certain level it will also stimulate ventilation. If this decrease in oxygen occurs before the increased CO2 has sedated the patient, the patient will experience the sensation of suffocation. Neserita 20:23, 19 April 2007 (UTC)


Nitrogen, helium or argon, what's worse, fastest and least painful, what's most painful —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 01:36, 6 October 2007 (UTC)

Helium and argon are properly inert, and nitrogen is effectively inert as far as this is concerned. All are odourless, etc., and kill merely by the fact that they are not oxygen. Thus, they are all equally painless. Nitrogen is the cheapest (air is 79% nitrogen anyway) - about the only difference would be noticeable when speaking. Helium, due to its low molar mass, would cause a high-pitched voice, and similarly argon a low-pitched one. Nitrogen would make no difference. So nitrogen would be the most secretive gas too, if one wants to avoid psychological trauma. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 20:13, 2 June 2010 (UTC)


Any chance this article could be edited to a more neutral POV? It is virtually cheerleading the case for Nitrogen asphyxiation as a method of capital punishment. —Preceding unsigned comment added by Gaius colinius (talkcontribs) 15:08, 2 November 2007 (UTC)

The critical elements of NPOV are in paragraph 1 of the overview. The case now before the US Supreme Court argues that lethal injection is unconsitutionally painful and cruel. This article describes a physical procedure to end human life quickly without pain. By peeling away the secondary issue of painful execution, this article could encourage debate on the core questions of capital punishment: 1) Does the execution of a particularly noxious criminal make our society as a whole better or worse? 2) Is it possible in our court system to ascertain guilt sufficiently to assign capital punishment without bias of class, race, or other irrelevancies? 3) Should a moral society require that executions be "humane"? As Seitz (2001) indicated in her dissertation on previous transitions between methods of execution, the necessary legislative debate before nitrogen asphyxiation could be implemented is the appropriate forum for these discussions. Esa 0 (talk) 16:25, 19 November 2007 (UTC)

Silliness, original research and POV?[edit]

Does anyone else see the obvious flaw with this sequence of events?:

  1. Place the respirator on the subject.
  2. Complete all formal communications, such as pronouncement of sentencing and any final statement by the subject.

Someone clearly *is* cheerleading the case for nitrogen asphyxiation and perhaps a little too keen on pondering a 'how to' guide. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 23:29, 2 February 2008 (UTC)

I don't think it is silly, original research nor biased point of view, nor see what is obvious. I think that the facts speak for themselves as to whether nitrogen asphyxiation is a good execution method, if you don't think so, you can put forward the facts against it. JonatasM (talk) 09:19, 14 June 2010 (UTC)

Sullivan Mine[edit]

How could the coworker in the Sullivan Mine mentioned in the article call 911 when he would have lost consciousness after breathing twice? It seems like this should be clarified in the article. Ucucha 15:52, 26 July 2008 (UTC)

Two reference lists?[edit]

Why are there two reference lists? Not sure how they work code-wise, but surely two is daft. -- (talk) 14:43, 31 January 2010 (UTC)

Use on animals[edit]

Well, but if this method is so very humane, why is it not used for animal slaughtering?

It is used for some chicken slaughter. For larger animals, how exactly are you going to employ it for cows or pigs or sheep? SBHarris 21:06, 2 March 2010 (UTC)
Well, maybe it's possible to apply some sort of mask or helmet on a cow, pig or sheep.
Good luck. SBHarris 03:24, 3 March 2010 (UTC)
I think that cattle and pigs have to be alive for the blood to be pumped out of their bodies before the meat is ready. Nitrogen also seems like a more expensive method than what currently is utilized. JonatasM (talk) 09:09, 14 June 2010 (UTC)

It's not painless[edit]

Nitrogen asphyxiation is not necessary without signs or discomfort. I experienced it once, breathing pure nitrogen for a short while. Sure, I did not feel air hunger but still felt more and more severe discomfort with time. It was mainly dizziness, ringing ears, blurry vision, nausea and some unexplainable bad feeling which grew unbearable after a while. (talk) 10:46, 27 September 2011 (UTC)

Was this "pure" nitrogen in a closed system? Under pure nitrogen I would expect someone to pass out almost immediately. However, if this was a nitrogen gas leak or nitrogen in an open setting, then there would still be a low concentration of oxygen. Enough oxygen to allow consciousness and therefore experience pain. I would be interested to know the circumstances of your experience. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 06:02, 18 December 2011 (UTC)

It was painless for me[edit]

Long ago as a chemistry grad student, I was curious if oxygen deprivation was a key element of the effect of nitrous oxide inhalation. I took a tube from a tank of nitrogen, took two deep breaths to purge oxygen and CO2, and took a deep breath and held it. There was no sensation of any kind. In a matter of seconds, it was as if a light switch was pulled. I was unconscious before I began to collapse to the floor, and awoke with no symptoms. (The experiment should not have been attempted standing, but I was surprised by the suddenness.) By purging CO2, I did not feel the deprivation associated with that.

It has been suggested that a loose mask would allow oxygen, but a full face respirator with a nitrogen feed would prevent this. A strong flow of nitrogen would purge O2 and CO2, and unconsciousness would follow quickly, with brain death a few minutes after. This seems much simpler and more humane than current methods.

What is the scope of this article?[edit]

It isn't called "nitrogen asphyxiation of humans." It had a number of facts about nitrogen asphyxiation in lower animals until the "WikiProject Death" and capital punishment people got hold of it, and removed them. First they did it for "poor referencing." Just recently, after a reference was found, some editor did it because the rest of the article was about people. It seems you want it done, so one reason is as good as another.

Make up your minds, folks. Nitrogen doesn't work the same way in many animals as in humans, and there are reasons for that. It is used as a slaughter method in chickens, but is inhumane for many lab animals.

Either change the title of this article, or else broaden your scope. SBHarris 17:14, 7 February 2012 (UTC)

Feel free to add a section about the use of nitrogen to asphyxiate animals. What you can't do is add 2 sentences to the lead that basically make no sense out of context. You say that we can't use nitrogen to asphyxiate animals...who wants to asphyxiate animals? Which animals do they use nitrogen asphyxiation for? Is this an intentional or accidental practice? Without context, I literally cannot understand what those sentences were about. Furthermore, information should not appear in the lead unless it first appears in the article body, with a few exceptions (like birthdate and basic definition). I've reverted, but I have no problems if you want to add info about the use of nitrogen to asphyxiate animals to the article so long as it is sourced. Qwyrxian (talk) 02:47, 8 February 2012 (UTC)

It's a little messy in the sense that the title is Inert Gas Asphyxiation and yet several non-inert gases are mentioned and without clarification. It could be 'Gas asphyxiation' and break it doen into sections from there? Even so, the different mechanisms may need to be clarified. Some gases work simply by depriving the brain of oxygen whereas some are additionally poisonous. Even the in-between gases like carbon dioxide can cause category confusion (carbon dioxide causes hypercapnia which increases oxygen intake initially and death could be thorugh a combination of carbon dioxide poisonning and anoxia.) A simple 'Death Using Gases' could be broken down into use in veterinary practice and suicide as two main categories for starters, and then subdivided by gases used in each of those. There are some other statements that need tightened up technically as well. Probably reference some good pathology textbooks or articles to demonstrate how death actually occurs. Parzivalamfortas (talk) 05:45, 20 November 2013 (UTC)Parzivalamfortas "Death using gases" includes the use of gases such as carbon monoxide which interferes with the transport of oxygen in the blood, hydrogen cyanide (which interferes with metabolism), chlorine (irritation and corrosion), and hydrogen sulfide (damage to the nervous system), all of which cause death from causes other than asphyxiation. This is distinct from inert gas asphyxiation.Pbrower2a Pbrower2a (talk) 16:07, 24 January 2014 (UTC)

useless language translations[edit]

The ginormous section of "asphyxiate" and such in other languages is a complete waste and just like Wikipedia to stuff in as many languages and transliterations as possible. It's junk and should be removed. Estonian? Seriously? — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 03:10, 26 April 2012 (UTC)

While I find your tone to be too harsh, I agree with the underlying sentiment, and have replaced it with a summary. Qwyrxian (talk) 03:14, 26 April 2012 (UTC)


Can we get a link to the samaritans on this page? It is being linked to be people advocating suicide — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 19:47, 14 May 2012 (UTC)

No, for several reasons; first, we don't link to advocacy pages, per WP:EL, except in special circumstances (like if the Samaritans had their own Wikipedia article). Second, that info is not directly linked to this topic, as this article is strictly about Nitrogen asphyxiation, not the general idea of committing suicide. Qwyrxian (talk) 01:31, 15 May 2012 (UTC)

Needs broader scope[edit]

As the article on suicide bag makes clear, we actually know more about deliberate helium asphyxiation in humans than we know about nitrogen used that way. Any inert gas will do, and there's no reason to think nitrogen is different from any other inert gas, like argon (helium might be a little different from the others for physical reasons, inasmuch as it's so much lighter than air that it goes to the top of a bag open at the bottom, so tends to stay put in the right place in a do-it-yourself contraption). What we really need is an article called Inert gas asphyxiation with a section on animals (main article: Controlled atmosphere killing), and the section on humans divided into suicide and capital punishment/homicide. Under capital punishment, goes the nitrogen suggestion. Which suggestion weirdly dominates this misnamed article now, even though nitrogen has never been used in capital punishment! But has been used many times by suicides who asphyxiate themselves, yet even there, not as much as helium has. Strange! SBHarris 03:13, 15 May 2012 (UTC)

Since when are mink "diving animals"?[edit]

Mink are land-dwelling Mustelids. They are not "diving animals" and spend little if any time in water, let alone diving to any depths. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 06:52, 25 June 2012 (UTC)

They aren't otters, but they swim and dive and eat fish, frogs, and the like. They certainly dive more than racoons, and they swim very much like otters.

[1] [2] [3] SBHarris 18:19, 25 June 2012 (UTC)

Capital punishment banner[edit]

I have just looked at this article for the first time and was shocked (and confused) to see the "Capital Punishment" banner. I was about to edit the article and delete this thinking it was a mistake or vandalism until I scrolled down the article and found the small paragraphs relevant to capital punishment. But, even the (very large and distracting) banner states that Nitrogen is a PROPOSED agent, so why is the banner attached to this article? Surely it should be removed.__DrChrissy (talk) 18:45, 14 June 2013 (UTC)

See above. This happened for historical reasons. Nitrogen asphixiation as a death penalty article was written first, off the mere proposal for this. At the same time suicide bag as a euthanasia/suicide technique with helium was written by other parties. Then it was noticed that inert gas asphyxiation (no article by that name at that time) was used in animal slaughter as (one type of) controlled atmosphere killing (CO2 as an active poison being the other main type), and finally a number of people (including me) pointed out that all this stuff is the same thing, and there have been accidental cases also, and that the death penalty use is (actually) the least of a very general phenomenon, which should have the name the article has now. We've had to fight the blind men and an elephant syndrome all along, just to get to where we are. For example, when I first added animal slaughter info to (what was then) a "nitrogen death penalty" article, I was reverted on grounds that it wasn't relevant! SBHarris 00:21, 15 June 2013 (UTC)
Hi. Thank you very much for explaining this. I spent some time going through the history of the article and guessed that the addition of the banner was historical. As I mentioned above, for a first time reader of the page as it now exists, the banner looks terribly unrelated and misleading. I came to the page as someone interested in animal behaviour and animal welfare, certainly not someone interested in methods of suicide or killing other humans. By the way, I see that Inert gas refers to CO2 as a "pseudo-inert gas"; perhaps this needs mentioning in the article.__DrChrissy (talk) 17:37, 15 June 2013 (UTC)

It is not yet in use as capital punishment; it is a potential means of lawful execution, but it is not yet a prescribed method. It has yet to be introduced in any legislative body as a means of lawful execution. Wikipedia is not the place for making predictions of the future except as scheduled events (Dostoevsky bicentennial in 2021) or reliably-certain events (precession of the equinoxes will continue) as fact.

So what is possible?

1. American states that find lethal injection impossible will revert to hanging, cyanide gas, electrocution, or firing squads.

2. American states that find lethal injection impossible but reject other means will effectively abandon capital punishment.

3. The United States Supreme Court may decide again that capital punishment as available will be "cruel and unusual punishment" and thus outlaw capital punishment. Pbrower2a (talk) 16:25, 24 January 2014 (UTC)

It seems to me that the page needs to be cleaned up somewhat. There are many irrelevant references to capital punishment and inert gas has never been used for capital punishment. If people want to propose it as such, or suggest that such proposals have been taken seriously, then it seems that references should be included. The Portillo one, an offhand remark by a TV programme maker, is hardly enough to overload an article entitles Inert Gas Asphyxiation with lists and references to various means of execution. I've removed the totally egregious section of 'references' that didn't reference inert gas asphyxiation even once. perhaps someone would like to finish the job and get the page onto a more scientific footing? Parzivalamfortas (talk) 02:30, 24 June 2014 (UTC)

I've attempted some of this, but will see what others think. The page does seem to be overly used as a potential mouthpiece for advocacy groups on suicide, animal rights and capital punishment - all of which have only fairly nominal connections with the heading.Parzivalamfortas (talk) 03:07, 24 June 2014 (UTC)

lead image[edit]

I have just placed a skull and cross-bones as the lead image on this article. However, I am a little concerned that this could be misleading in that it indicates poison, whereas methods in the article are largely non-toxic. I feel very much that this article neads a lead image to help the reader immediately identify the subject, but I would not want to confuse people. Another possibility is below.

Experiment with the Air Pump

__DrChrissy (talk) 15:54, 4 July 2013 (UTC)

Looking at it now, I don't like that image, as I don't think it's really connected to the topic. I don't understand why the article needs a lead image--many articles do not have one, and this seems like exactly the abstract kind of topic that would be better off with out one. Qwyrxian (talk) 10:00, 28 August 2013 (UTC)

Reverted IP addition[edit]

An IP editor added extended material from Portillo's documentary to the "Capital Punishment" section (see this edit). I reverted it, because I believe it's WP:UNDUE (that's a part of our neutrality policy, WP:NPOV). The IP re-added the material, left a message on my talk page, but didn't actually justify inclusion. As such, I've re-reverted to remove the info again. However, does anyone else have an opinion on the edit? Am I wrong in thinking it's not actually relevant to this page, and borders on being soapboxing? Qwyrxian (talk) 09:59, 28 August 2013 (UTC)

Just a note that Ravensfire's revert touches on one of my concerns: the IP had overgeneralized, taking one person's statement about capital punishment and stating it was true of all people who support capital punishment. That's WP:OR...and not very accurate OR at that. Qwyrxian (talk) 21:34, 28 August 2013 (UTC)

Sulfur hexafluoride[edit]

Would sulfur hexafluoride have much the same effect (allowing for its density)? It is practically inert, and except for replacing oxygen as a breathable gas it is harmless. Pbrower2a (talk) 15:55, 24 January 2014 (UTC)

Apparently so. Parzivalamfortas (talk) 03:13, 24 June 2014 (UTC)


Although I agree [4] was probably a copyright violation, I hope someone follows up on the results of the legislative effort. EllenCT (talk) 22:34, 12 September 2014 (UTC)