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Byproducts of Sulfur Hexafluoride (SF6) - Use in the Electric Power Industry

Sulfur hexafluoride (SF6) is a relatively nontoxic gas used in a number of applications for its inert qualities. The dielectric and other physical and chemical properties related to its lack of reactivity have led to the extensive use of SF6 as an insulating medium in switching equipment (e.g., circuit breakers) by electric utilities. While SF6 is inert during normal use, when electrical discharges occur within SF6-filled equipment, toxic byproducts can be produced that pose a threat to health of workers who come into contact with them. This paper discusses these byproducts and how they are formed, and also summarizes relevant health and safety concerns, as well as handling, detection, and safety procedures and guidelines.

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