Safety: Carbon Dioxide (CO2) Asphyxiation

Carbon Dioxide (CO2) gas can presents a deadly hazard. When it accumulates in higher concentrations it presents the hazard of Asphyxiation.

You can suffer accidental death by asphyxiation from Carbon Dioxide (CO2). If you work around CO2, it’s important to be aware of its properties and recognize the situations that present this hazard.

Facts you need to know…

  • CO2 is a colorless, odorless gas that’s about 1.5 times as heavy as air. As such, CO2 gas can accumulate in open pits or other below-grade areas in dangerously high concentrations.
  • CO2 displaces Oxygen, so that areas with higher concentrations of CO2 can cause death. Concentrations of 10% and above can result in unconsciousness in 1 minute or less.
  • CO2 is a hazard in ANY confined space that lacks proper ventilation. Prolonged exposure to levels of 3% can impair judgement.
  • Exposure to higher concentrations of CO2 increase heart rate and blood pressure, can cause headaches, dizziness, sweating, respiratory distress, mental and visual disturbance, as well as shaking, depending on the concentration.

Safety & Prevention…

  • Avoid storing or using CO2 in basements or other submerged areas.
  • Appropriate warning signs should be posted in environments where CO2 is used and/or could accumulate.
  • A CO2 detector with alarm should be installed to monitor air quality, wherever carbon dioxide present a hazard.
  • The pressure release systems for carbon dioxide storage should be piped outdoors for indoors, restricted, confined or limited space installations.

Ventilation of the workspace is critical to the Safety of working with Carbon Dioxide. To learn more, download safety information from the Gas and Welding Distributors Association (GAWDA), and related Safety Data Sheed (SDS) on Carbon Dioxide.

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