OSH Answers Fact Sheets
Easy-to-read, question-and-answer fact sheets covering a wide range of workplace health and safety topics, from hazards to diseases to ergonomics to workplace promotion. MORE ABOUT >
What are other names or identifying information for carbon dioxide?
CAS Registry No.: 124-38-9
Other Names: CO2, Liquefied carbon dioxide, Refrigerated carbon dioxide
Main Uses: Manufacture of other chemicals, food processing, numerous other uses
Appearance: Colourless gas.
Canadian TDG: UN1013, UN2187
What is the WHMIS 1988 classification?
A - Compressed Gas
What are the most important things to know about carbon dioxide in an emergency?
Emergency Overview: Colourless gas. Odourless. Will not burn. COMPRESSED GAS. Contains refrigerated gas. May explode if heated. CONFINED SPACE HAZARD. Can accumulate in hazardous amounts in low-lying areas especially inside confined spaces. ASPHYXIANT. High concentrations can displace oxygen in air and cause suffocation. May cause frostbite.
What are the potential health effects of carbon dioxide?
Main Routes of Exposure: Inhalation
- Inhalation: Low concentrations are not harmful. A high concentration can displace oxygen in the air. If less oxygen is available to breathe, symptoms such as rapid breathing, rapid heart rate, clumsiness, emotional upsets and fatigue can result. As less oxygen becomes available, nausea and vomiting, collapse, convulsions, coma and death can occur. Symptoms occur more quickly with physical effort. Lack of oxygen can cause permanent damage to organs including the brain and heart.
- Skin Contact: Not irritating. Direct contact with the liquefied gas can chill or freeze the skin (frostbite). Symptoms of mild frostbite include numbness, prickling and itching. Symptoms of more severe frostbite include a burning sensation and stiffness. The skin may become waxy white or yellow. Blistering, tissue death and infection may develop in severe cases.
- Eye Contact: May cause mild irritation. Direct contact with the liquefied gas can freeze the eye. Permanent eye damage or blindness can result.
- Ingestion: Not a relevant route of exposure (gas).
- Effects of Long-Term (Chronic) Exposure: Not harmful.
- Carcinogenicity: Not known to cause cancer.
International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC): Not specifically evaluated.
American Conference for Governmental Industrial Hygienists (ACGIH): Not specifically designated.
- Teratogenicity / Embryotoxicity: Not known to harm the unborn child.
- Reproductive Toxicity: Not known to be a reproductive hazard.
- Mutagenicity: Not known to be a mutagen.
What are first aid measures for carbon dioxide?
Inhalation: Take In case of oxygen deficiency: take precautions to ensure your own safety before attempting rescue (e.g. wear appropriate protective equipment). If breathing is difficult, trained personnel should administer emergency oxygen. If the heart has stopped, trained personnel should start cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) or automated external defibrillation (AED). Immediately call a Poison Centre or doctor. Treatment is urgently required. Transport to a hospital.
Skin Contact: Not applicable (gas). Liquefied gas: quickly remove victim from source of contamination. DO NOT attempt to rewarm the affected area on site. DO NOT rub area or apply direct heat. Gently remove clothing or jewelry that may restrict circulation. Carefully cut around clothing that sticks to the skin and remove the rest of the garment. Loosely cover the affected area with a sterile dressing. DO NOT allow victim to drink alcohol or smoke. Immediately call a Poison Centre or doctor. Treatment is urgently required. Transport to a hospital.
Eye Contact: Not applicable (gas). Liquefied gas: immediately and briefly flush with lukewarm, gently flowing water. DO NOT attempt to rewarm. Cover both eyes with a sterile dressing. DO NOT allow victim to drink alcohol or smoke. Immediately call a Poison Centre or doctor. Treatment is urgently required. Transport to a hospital.
Ingestion: Not applicable (gas).
First Aid Comments: Some of the first aid procedures recommended here require advanced first aid training. All first aid procedures should be periodically reviewed by a doctor familiar with the chemical and its conditions of use in the workplace.
What are fire hazards and extinguishing media for carbon dioxide?
Flammable Properties: Does not burn.
Suitable Extinguishing Media: Not combustible. Use extinguishing agent suitable for surrounding fire.
Specific Hazards Arising from the Chemical: Can displace oxygen in the air, causing suffocation. Gas may accumulate in hazardous amounts in low-lying areas especially inside confined spaces, resulting in a health hazard. Closed containers may rupture violently when heated releasing contents. In a fire, the following hazardous materials may be generated: very toxic carbon monoxide, carbon dioxide.
What are the stability and reactivity hazards of carbon dioxide?
- Chemical Stability: Normally stable.
- Conditions to Avoid: High temperatures. Temperatures above 52.0 °C (125.6 °F)
- Incompatible Materials: Increased risk of fire and explosion on contact with: metal powder or dusts. Not corrosive to metals.
- Hazardous Decomposition Products: None known.
- Possibility of Hazardous Reactions: None known.
What are accidental release measures for carbon dioxide?
Personal Precautions: Increase ventilation to area or move leaking container to a well-ventilated and secure area. Vapour or gas may accumulate in hazardous amounts in low-lying areas especially inside confined spaces, if ventilation is not sufficient.
Methods for Containment and Clean-up: Stop or reduce leak if safe to do so. Ventilate the area to prevent the gas from accumulating, especially in confined spaces.
What handling and storage practices should be used when working with carbon dioxide?
Handling: Prevent accidental contact with incompatible chemicals. Use the pressure regulator appropriate for cylinder pressure and contents. Secure cylinder in an up-right position. Protect cylinders from damage. Use a suitable hand truck to move cylinders; do not drag, roll, slide, or drop. If used in a confined space, check for oxygen deficiency before worker entry and during work.
Storage: Store in an area that is: cool, dry, well-ventilated, out of direct sunlight and away from heat and ignition sources, temperature-controlled, secure and separate from work areas, on the ground floor or preferably, if storing in large volumes, in an isolated, detached building. Always secure (e.g. chain) cylinders in an upright position to a wall, rack or other solid structure.
What is the American Conference of Governmental Industrial Hygienists (ACGIH®) recommended exposure limit for carbon dioxide?
ACGIH® TLV® - TWA: 5000 ppm
ACGIH® TLV® - STEL [C]: 30000 ppm
Exposure Guideline Comments: TLV® = Threshold Limit Value. TWA = Time-Weighted Average. STEL = Short-term Exposure Limit. C = Ceiling limit.
What are the engineering controls for carbon dioxide?
Engineering Controls: Use local exhaust ventilation, if general ventilation is not adequate to control amount in the air.
What Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) is needed when working with carbon dioxide?
Eye/Face Protection: Wear chemical safety goggles. (frost bite).
Skin Protection: Always wear insulated protective clothing, if contact with refrigerated gas is possible.
Respiratory Protection: Up to 40,000 ppm: if the oxygen content of the air is below acceptable limits, wear a NIOSH approved self-contained breathing apparatus (SCBA) or supplied air respirator.
Although every effort is made to ensure the accuracy, currency and completeness of the information, CCOHS does not guarantee, warrant, represent or undertake that the information provided is correct, accurate or current. CCOHS is not liable for any loss, claim, or demand arising directly or indirectly from any use or reliance upon the information.