This blog will tackle the safety information of carbon dioxide (CO2), here we will focus on:
- What CO2 is
- Where CO2 is used
- Why it’s important to use reliable gas monitors
- CO2 regulations
- Guidelines for safe levels of CO2
- The effects dangerous levels of CO2 can have on humans and the environment
What exactly is CO2?
Carbon dioxide (CO2) is a colorless, odorless gas that is composed of one carbon atom and two oxygen atoms. It is a naturally occurring substance that is present in the Earth’s atmosphere, and is also a byproduct of human activities such as burning fossil fuels and deforestation. CO2 is an important greenhouse gas, which means it helps to trap heat in the Earth’s atmosphere, leading to warming of the planet. This warming can have negative effects on the environment, such as sea level rise and changes in weather patterns.
CO2 is also used in a wide range of industrial processes, including carbonation in beverages, fire suppression systems and enhanced oil recovery.
CO2 is non-toxic at low levels, but if left unchecked, higher amounts of CO2 in the air could lead to tragic consequences. It is of vital importance that we measure the levels and make sure they are under control in different industries and processes.
Where is CO2 used in industry and why is it important to measure the gas levels?
There are several commercial industries that need carbon dioxide (CO2) monitors to ensure the safety of their employees and the public. Some examples include:
1. Food & beverage storage and production
CO2 monitors are used in commercial refrigeration and cold storage facilities to ensure that the CO2 levels are appropriate for the preservation of food and beverages.CO2 monitors are also used in the beverage industry to measure the concentration of CO2 in the air and in the liquid inside tanks, kegs, and other containers. This information is used to ensure that the proper amount of CO2 is being added to the beverages during production and that the levels are maintained during storage and transportation.CO2 monitors can also be used to detect leaks in the CO2 delivery and storage systems, preventing potentially dangerous build-ups of CO2. These monitors can be installed in various places such as production lines, fermentation rooms and storage tanks, to ensure the safety of the workers and the quality of the products.
2. Greenhouses and indoor agriculture
CO2 monitors are used in greenhouses and indoor agricultural facilities to ensure that plants are getting the proper amount of CO2 for photosynthesis and that staff remain safe.In greenhouses and indoor agriculture, CO2 monitors are used to measure the concentration of CO2 in the air inside the growing environment. This is important for maintaining optimal growing conditions for plants, as CO2 is a key component in photosynthesis. By measuring and controlling the CO2 levels in the greenhouse or indoor farm, growers can optimize the growth and yield of their crops.In addition, CO2 monitors can be used to measure the safety and overall air quality inside the greenhouse or indoor farm, as high levels of CO2 can indicate poor ventilation and a lack of fresh air, which can negatively impact the indoor air quality and the comfort and productivity of the people inside the building.
3. Brewing and winemaking
In brewing and winemaking, CO2 monitors are used to measure the concentration of CO2 in the air and liquid inside tanks, kegs, and other containers. This information is used to ensure that the proper amount of CO2 is being added to the beverages during production and that the levels are maintained during storage and transportation.During fermentation, CO2 is produced as a byproduct of yeast metabolism, and it is important to monitor the levels of CO2 to ensure that the fermentation process is proceeding as expected. High levels of CO2 can indicate that the fermentation is proceeding too rapidly, while low levels can indicate that the fermentation is proceeding too slowly. CO2 monitors can be used to measure the concentration of CO2 in the fermentation tanks, allowing the brewer or winemaker to make adjustments to the temperature, yeast, or other factors to optimize the fermentation process.CO2 monitors can be used to detect leaks in the CO2 delivery and storage systems, preventing potentially dangerous build-ups of CO2. They can also be used to ensure that the correct amount of CO2 is being added to the beverages during carbonation.CO2 monitors are an essential tool in brewing and winemaking for ensuring the quality and safety of the products and the proper functioning of the equipment.
Analox recommends: Ax60+
4. Indoor air quality
CO2 monitors are used in commercial buildings, offices, and other indoor spaces to ensure that the air is safe to breathe. High levels of CO2 can indicate poor ventilation and can lead to symptoms such as headaches, dizziness, and fatigue.
Analox recommends: Air Quality Guardian
5. Education, research institutions and laboratories
CO2 monitoring is important in labs and research facilities where CO2 is used in experiments, CO2 monitoring is important to ensure safety of lab personnel.In laboratories, CO2 monitors are used to measure the concentration of CO2 in the air inside the lab. This is important for maintaining proper ventilation and air quality, as well as for the safety of the lab workers. High levels of CO2 can cause headaches, drowsiness, and other symptoms, and can also negatively impact the results of experiments.CO2 monitors are also used in specific laboratory experiments that require controlled CO2 levels. They are used to monitor the CO2 levels in incubators, growth chambers, and other controlled environment setups used for growing plants, microorganisms, or other organisms. They also used to monitor the CO2 emissions from different chemical reactions, for example in biotechnology, fermentation, or analytical chemistry experiments.
CO2 monitors are used in the transportation industry, for example in shipping containers, to ensure that the air inside is safe for the transported goods and people. Portable CO2 monitors are a great way to increase worker safety for those that deliver gas bottles as having a CO2 monitor on your person at all times will keep you informed of the levels of CO2 in all areas you visit.
Analox recommends: CO2BUDDY
What are safe levels of CO2?
Safe levels of carbon dioxide (CO2) depend on the specific application and the duration of exposure.
The American Conference of Governmental Industrial Hygienists (ACGIH) recommends a threshold limit value (TLV) of 5,000 ppm of CO2 for a time-weighted average (TWA) exposure over an 8-hour workday.
Some experts also recommend that CO2 levels in indoor environments should not exceed 800-1000 ppm, to ensure good air quality. Analox offers a wide range of CO2 monitors depending on your application.
These are general guidelines, and that actual safe levels may vary depending on the specific circumstances and the susceptibility of the individuals involved.
How is CO2 harmful to humans?
Carbon dioxide (CO2) is not toxic at normal levels, but can be harmful to human health when concentrations become too high. High levels of CO2 in the air can lead to poor air quality, which can cause headaches, fatigue, and difficulty concentrating. In extreme cases, high levels of CO2 can also lead to unconsciousness and death.
People with pre-existing respiratory or cardiovascular conditions may be more susceptible to the effects of CO2 exposure.
CO2 is colorless, odorless and tasteless, which makes it hard for people to detect them without the aid of a gas detector. That’s why it is important to have reliable CO2 detectors installed in places where the risk of exposure is high to ensure that ultimately, the air is safe to breathe.
What CO2 level is too high?
Humans need a certain level of CO2 in the air to maintain proper oxygen levels for respiration.
However, the CO2 levels inside buildings can be much higher than 400ppm, especially in poorly ventilated spaces. This happens because people, animals and some appliances produce CO2 as a byproduct of respiration and combustion.
CO2 levels above the recommended levels can have negative impacts on human health, which can lead to symptoms such as headaches, fatigue, and difficulty concentrating. In extreme cases, high levels of CO2 can also lead to unconsciousness and death.
To maintain good indoor air quality, it’s important to have proper ventilation in buildings, and monitor the CO2 levels regularly. CO2 detectors can be used to measure the CO2 levels in a specific area, and when the levels are found to be too high, steps can be taken to improve ventilation and reduce the CO2 levels.
Take a look at these handy tables below for reference:
|CO2 Level in ppm (parts per million)||Effects on the air and the human body|
|250-400ppm||Normal background concentration in outdoor ambient air|
|400-1,000ppm||Concentrations typical of occupied indoor spaces with good air exchange|
|1,000-2,000ppm||Complaints of drowsiness and poor air|
|2,000-5,000ppm||Headaches, sleepiness and stagnant, stale, stuffy air. Poor concentration, loss of attention, increased heart rate and slight nausea may also be present|
|5,000ppm||Workplace exposure limit (as 8-hour TWA) in most jurisdictions|
|>40,000ppm||Exposure may lead to serious oxygen deprivation resulting in permanent brain damage, coma, even death.|
How can I lower my CO2 levels?
There are several ways to lower the levels of carbon dioxide (CO2) in the air naturally:
- Increase ventilation: Open windows and doors to allow fresh air to circulate. This can help to remove stale air and lower CO2 levels.
- Use plants: Plants absorb CO2 and release oxygen through the process of photosynthesis. Having plants in your home or office can help to lower CO2 levels naturally.
- Reduce the number of people in a room: The more people in a room, the higher the levels of CO2 will be. Reducing the number of people in a room can help to lower CO2 levels naturally.
- Use a high quality hood over your stove. CO2 levels can rise during the cooking process, this will ensure that excess CO2 and other pollutants in the air that come from cooking can be removed.
- Use a dehumidifier: High humidity levels can cause an increase in CO2 concentration in the air. Using a dehumidifier can help to lower humidity levels and CO2 levels.
- Keep the temperature low: Lowering the temperature can help to reduce the amount of CO2 concentration in the air.
In situations of high concentrations of CO2, these methods may not be able to lower the CO2 to a safe level. In that case, it is important to have a proper ventilation (HVAC) system in place.
Why is CO2 harmful to the environment?
Carbon dioxide (CO2) is harmful to the Earth’s environment primarily because it is a greenhouse gas that contributes to global warming. Greenhouse gasses, such as CO2, trap heat in the Earth’s atmosphere, which can cause the Earth’s temperature to rise. This warming effect is known as the greenhouse effect.
As the Earth’s temperature rises, it can lead to a variety of negative effects on the environment, such as:
- Increased frequency and severity of heat waves
- More intense and frequent storms
- Rising sea levels
- Changes in precipitation patterns
- Loss of biodiversity
- Damage to coral reefs
- Loss of Arctic sea ice
- Changes in agricultural productivity
- Disruption of ecosystems
CO2 is also harmful to the oceans, as it dissolves in seawater and forms carbonic acid, which can make the water more acidic. This ocean acidification can have a significant impact on marine organisms, such as shellfish and coral, as well as on the entire marine ecosystem.
CO2 is also a by-product of industrial processes and human activities such as power generation, transportation, and deforestation. Therefore, it’s important to take steps to reduce CO2 emissions in order to mitigate the harmful effects of global warming and ocean acidification.
Overall, CO2 is harmful to the Earth’s environment because it contributes to global warming and ocean acidification, which can have a wide range of negative effects on the planet.
There is a common misconception that if using carbon dioxide (CO2) in your facility you can stay safe by using an oxygen (O2) monitor.
The team here at Analox want to dispel this myth so we can ensure you and your team stay safe when using and storing CO2.
CO2 is a toxic gas meaning that even at relatively low levels it can have dangerous effects on the human body. In the event of a CO2 leak, the CO2 will begin to displace the O2 in the area, however, O2 sensors typically have alarm levels set at around 19.5% and 18% so by the time the CO2 has displaced enough oxygen to trigger these alarm levels the CO2 levels will be dangerously high.
If using CO2, your safety monitor must be a CO2 monitor, this is critical so you are alerted to any leaks at levels which still give you time to take action to keep everyone safe. This also helps to save you money as leaks can be addressed early and in the current times of CO2 shortages, protecting this precious resource is key to any business.
We’ve made this calculator so you can check the resultant O2 levels when the ambient CO2 level changes.
SLOT Specified level of toxicity (1 - 5% of fatalities) SLOD Significant likelihood of death (50% fatalities)
SLOT Specified level of toxicity (1 - 5% of fatalities)
SLOD Significant likelihood of death (50% fatalities)
Remember: You CANNOT use an O2 sensor to measure CO2 levels. CO2 levels become hazardous to life long before the CO2 displaces enough O2 for it to trigger an O2 alarm.
We hope that this blog has answered some of your questions around CO2. If you still have questions or need any advice regarding gas safety, please get in touch with us and we will be more than happy to assist.