Considerations for Carbon Dioxide Use in Labs
Carbon dioxide, or CO2, is one of the most abundant gases on earth. As a result, it is used across a variety of laboratory applications in many industries, from research to biotechnology and beyond. Despite its availability, CO2 gas can present hazards in workplaces, particularly when there is not adequate ventilation, allowing levels to rise too high. While designing your lab gas distribution system, keep these considerations in mind.
What to Know About Laboratory CO2 Gas Handling
CO2 gas is colorless, non-flammable, and odorless at room temperature. It is 1.5 times heavier than air and tends to concentrate in areas that are low, confined, or unventilated. As this gas is used widely throughout laboratories, it is essential to always follow all safety standards.
Applications that Benefit from a CO2 Lab Gas Supply
Carbon dioxide use in labs spans a wide range of applications. A few common uses include but are not limited to:
- Solvent Extraction. CO2 can be used as a solvent to extract compounds from natural products.
- pH Regulation. CO2 is used in buffering solutions to regulate pH levels in many laboratory experiments.
- Cell Culture Incubation. CO2 can be used to supply carbon for microbial growth.
- Instrument Calibration. Analytical instruments can use CO2 to ensure correct calibration.
- Gas Chromatography. CO2 is used as a carrier gas to separate complex compound mixtures.
CO2 Gas Management Guidelines & Standards
While no official regulations or federal standards exist for CO2 levels in indoor spaces, it is recommended that CO2 gas levels do not exceed over 1000 parts per million (ppm). Any levels over 1000 ppm can result in exposure symptoms for workers and extinguish pilot lights on any gas-powered appliances, negatively impacting lab safety and productivity.
CO2 Gas Handling for Improved Lab Safety
Potential Hazards of Using CO2 Lab Gas Distribution Systems
The hazards of CO2 release include the possibility of damage to sensitive equipment and, most importantly, health consequences for workers. Operator error, improperly maintained equipment, and other factors can result in leaks and have critical health impacts on employees. Symptoms will depend on the severity of CO2 exposure, but they can include:
- Difficulty breathing
- Elevated heart rate and blood pressure
In extreme cases, the victim may experience a coma, asphyxia, convulsions, or even death. If severe exposure occurs, always seek immediate medical attention.
Ensure Lab Safety Through Proper CO2 Gas Management
These safety considerations for CO2 gas handling are designed to keep personnel safer and laboratory operations running without interruption. In addition to ensuring all applications are carried out in well-ventilated areas, be sure to:
- Install continuous monitoring systems to detect changes in CO2 levels
- Store all CO2 cylinders in clearly marked, well-ventilated areas
- Inspect all lab gas distribution system equipment regularly
- Maintain proper labeling to avoid human error
- Wear necessary personal protective equipment (PPE)
- Require all employees to undergo CO2 gas handling training
- Integrate automatic gas distribution system components whenever possible
Maximize Safety with Automatic Changeover Valves for Lab Gas Distribution Systems
Automatic components—such as Assurance Valve’s Eliminator automatic gas cylinder changeover valve—can help lower the risk of human error, maintain consistent CO2 levels during all processes, and raise the efficiency of your laboratory work. The Eliminator makes the most of your resources: product is used more efficiently, and workers can focus on higher-level considerations as it automatically switches from primary to secondary cylinders without intervention. Other benefits include:
- Easy installation to get you to work as soon as possible
- Simple operations mean no specialty training is required
- Custom options to match your lab gas distribution system
- Non-electric to ensure no gas flow disruptions
- And much more!