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CPSC Issues New Safety Warning for Paintball Guns

Release Date: March 24, 2004

Based on its investigation of two deaths caused by carbon dioxide (CO2) canisters flying off paintball guns, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) is issuing a new warning. Paintball gun users should be advised that the brass or nickel-plated valve that connects directly to the canister must not be unscrewed from the canister when removing the canister assembly from a paintball gun. This valve must stay secured and rotate with the CO2 canister.

In both of the deaths investigated by CPSC, the brass valve unscrewed from the canister, turning the pressurized canister into a deadly projectile. In June 2003, a 15-year-old boy died after being struck in the head by a paintball CO2 canister as he was removing the canister from the gun. In February 2004, a female bystander was killed by a CO2 canister that was expelled as someone else was removing the canister from a paintball gun. While these investigations are not complete, CPSC is issuing this new safety warning to help people avoid the hazard.

"We are very concerned about the recent deaths associated with paintball gun canisters," said CPSC Chairman Hal Stratton. "We are actively investigating these cases. Even though our investigation is not complete, we believe it is urgent to provide this new safety message about the valve detaching from the canister while unscrewing it from the paintball gun."

CPSC also recommends that people make sure that any modifications to the paintball gun or the CO2 canister are done properly. For example, installing anti-siphon tubes involves removing and re- installing the canister valve. It is critical that the valve be re- installed with the appropriate adhesive and the proper torque.

-Make sure the brass or nickel-plated canister valve is securely attached to the canister, rotates with the canister, and does not unscrew from the canister.

-The canister assembly should unscrew from the paintball gun in about three or four full turns; if you finish the 4th full turn and the canister is not unscrewed from the gun, stop! Take it to a professional.

-Some people have used paint or nail polish to mark the brass valve and the CO2 canister so they can see that the valve and the canister rotate together while being removed from the gun.

Figure 1: Paintball gun and carbon dioxide (CO2) canister.

Figure 2: Brass or nickel-plated valve must remain connected to the CO2 canister.

Figure 3: Painted line between valve and CO2 canister.

Figure 4: Painted lines separating. The painted lines must stay together as you unscrew the canister assembly from the paintball gun. If the lines separate, stop unscrewing the canister and take the gun to a professional. If the valve unscrews from the canister, the canister can become a deadly projectile.

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The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) is charged with protecting the public from unreasonable risk of injury or death associated with the use of thousands of types of consumer products. Deaths, injuries, and property damage from consumer product-related incidents cost the nation more than $1 trillion annually. CPSC's work to ensure the safety of consumer products has contributed to a decline in the rate of injuries associated with consumer products over the past 50 years. 

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