Find out the dangers of CO2, how increased levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere can affect the body and how carbon dioxide gas detection can keep you safe.
What is carbon dioxide?
Carbon dioxide (CO2) is a gas which occurs naturally in the Earth’s atmosphere at a rate of 400 parts per million (ppm). It is colourless, odourless and non-flammable.
CO2 is used in a wide range of industries:
- it is used to carbonate soft drinks and alcoholic beverages,
- it is a primary ingredient in fire extinguishers
- it is used to decaffeinate coffee and clean clothes
- it is used to promote growth in fruit and vegetables
- it is used as a coolant gas in power stations
- it is used to create dry ice
- carbon dioxide can also be generated by certain products, for example, when timber is held in a confined space, it undergoes oxidation which causes CO2 to be produced
The level of CO2 normally in the atmosphere is harmless, but an increase of levels of the gas in a working or home environment can have serious health effects. Some organisations have set long and short term exposure limits for working, and this legislation varies globally. OSHA (Occupational Safety and Health Administration) have set an exposure limit of 5,000ppm over an eight-hour period, and 30,000ppm over a 10-minute period, whilst the European standard EH40 has set a short-term 15-minute exposure limit of 15,000ppm.
How can different levels of carbon dioxide affect me?
| CO2 Concentration
(%Volume – rising)
| Effects on the body
(at atmospheric pressure)
|1||Unnoticable increase in breathing rate.|
|2||Breathing deepens, rate increases to twice the normal. Continued exposure may cause headaches and exhaustion.|
|3||Breathing becomes intensive, rate increases to twice the normal. The ability to hear is reduced, with an increase in blood pressure, pulse and heachaches.|
|4-5||Breathing becomes intensive, rate increases to twice the normal with headaches. Signs of intoxication develop with a slight choking feeling.|
|5-10||A pungent smell becomes noticeable, with breathing continuing to rise in intensively. Headache, sight issues, ringing in the ears and confusion. Usually leads to loss of consciousness within minutes.|
|10-100||Loss of consciousness is more rapid, with a risk of death from respiratory failure. Danger to life increased with concentrations, regardless of oxygen depletion. Concentrations 20-30% above are immediately life threatening.|
Physiological effects of carbon dioxideWhat are the physiological effects of increased levels of #CO2 in the atmosphere? Click To Tweet
Physiological effects of carbon dioxide include:
- Reduced hearing
- Mild narcosis
- Increased heart rate and blood pressure
- Shortness of breath
- Dimmed sight
The benefits of carbon dioxide gas detection
As CO2 has no taste or smell, it can be hard to detect. This is why CO2 monitors are so important, and a workplace risk assessment may suggest that gas detectors are installed.
As CO2 is heavier than air, it is recommended that fixed carbon dioxide detectors are not mounted at head height – for example, we recommend that the Ax60 is wall-mounted 450mm off the ground and the repeater unit is placed at head height at the entrance to the room.
Contact us today to find out how we can help with your carbon dioxide gas detection needs.
Author: Kate Ingham, Digital Marketing Executive
Founded in 1981, Analox Sensor Technology provides niche and custom gas detection solutions to industries including beverage and fast food, commercial diving and laboratories. Analox has over 325 years of collective, specialist electronics and software engineering expertise, as well as a worldwide distributor network. Contact us to see how we can provide expert gas monitoring solutions and help you achieve your goals.