What we know about Nitrogen Hypoxia, the Newest Lethal Gas

What we know about Nitrogen Hypoxia, the Newest Lethal Gas

Lily Brown, Staff Writer

In Alabama, talk of a new possible lethal gas has been filling the news with questions and concerns of how it is going to be implemented into society. Although the name Nitrogen Hypoxia is not as known to us on the west coast, the discussion of using this gas in the future has been up for serious discussion for the past couple years. It is now gaining more popularity in the press due to it possibly being put up to play on September 22nd, 2022.

Nitrogen is a gas that was discovered in 1772 by chemist Daniel Rutherford, and has been tested with other gasses since. As the Oxford Academic article stated Nitrogen Hypoxia, “..results in the dilution of oxygen within the alveoli of patients breathing air and may cause ‘diffusion hypoxia’ .”Nitrogen Hypoxia eliminates most of the oxygen, making the patient just breathe nitrogen. This is very dangerous as the human body needs oxygen to sustain a normal breathing pattern. Instead of using the lethal injection known as Pancuronium Bromide for people on death row, the idea of using Nitrogen Hypoxia has been in the works for years now. In Alabama, Nitrogen Hypoxia was permitted for use in 2018, along with Oklamhoma and Missouri, but has never been tested. People believe that this untested gas is the more “humane” way of following through with an execution.

During the execution process,  Nitrogen Hypoxia is pumped into the air, eliminating all the oxygen in the room. For the patient, it will supposedly make the person feel lightheaded and dizzy, with the feeling of suffocation being added in after a while. 

In Alabama, inmate Alan Miller (57 years old) was convicted in August of 1999 for killing 3 different people. Now as his execution date has been creeping up, he has voiced his opinion on using the lethal injection. According to Alabama News 19, Miller stated, I wouldn’t be stabbed like that or have allergic reactions to the chemicals that they said was in the lethal injection.” Unfortunately for Miller, his case was not received as of Thursday (September 15th), which the court said Nitrogen Hypoxia will still not be ready for use by the 22nd of September. Apparently, Miller said that this was unfair and how he doesnt have control over his own body now in reaction to him having to endure the lethal shot. 

Although nitrogen hypoxia is not being put up to the test for Alan’s trial, the government may try to incorporate this lethal gas into the prison execution system in the next couple years. Additionally, the question of if the gas will be permitted in any of the other states may continue to be raised as people inquire about  more humane forms of incarceration and punishment, and even the morality of the death penalty in the future.