This question is based on the FDA's Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act, where they list medical gases as being regulated by the FDA. There is ambiguity, however, as the act puts an emphasis on high purity gases and does not appear to mention the regulations on these same gases at lower purities or in mixtures with other gases.

This is particularly confusing when it comes to oxygen and nitrous oxide, as both are listed as medical gases, with oxygen is being sold legally both as a supplement in a can as well as at "oxygen bars", just at a purity lower than what would classify it as "medical oxygen". Nitrous oxide, however, cannot legally be sold for human consumption in this same way. Regular air is also listed as a medical gas, and presumably this could be sold legally like oxygen as long as it's not for medical purposes.

Additionally, what do this act or other laws say about gases not explicitly listed as medical gases? Can a gas even be sold as a supplement in the first place?


Medical gasses are simply those that are pure enough for human consumption and are usually used in association with medical procedures. This contrasts with industrial gases which aren’t made in accordance with FDA regulations and can kill you if you consume them.

AFAIK there is no restriction on the use to which medical gasses may be put - that is, they can be consumed outside of medical necessity if you want.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.