Introduction to Carbon Dioxide (CO2)

Carbon Dioxide (CO2) is a colorless and odorless gas at low concentrations. However, it has a sharp, acidic odor at high concentrations. Carbon Dioxide is a byproduct of activities such as energy production and transportation. It is also regularly emitted by industrial processes through fossil fuel combustion and chemical reactions. CO2 is used in the chemical industry as an ingredient in the production of methanol, metal carbonates and bicarbonates, and urea. Within the food and beverage industry, it is used as a propellant and acidity regulator, and as a refrigerant in the production of carbonated soft drinks. CO2 is also used in enhanced coal bed methane recovery in the mining industry.

As the primary greenhouse gas, Carbon Dioxide is found in the earth’s atmosphere in trace gas quantities at around 390 ppm by volume. However, in higher concentrations, it is considered a toxic gas and is particularly dangerous in enclosed areas.

Health Hazards

When present in high concentrations by inhaling or skin and/or eye contact, Carbon Dioxide may produce these symptoms:

  • Headache
  • Paresthesia
  • Asphyxia
  • Increased heart rate, cardiac output, blood pressure
  • Frostbite (in dry ice form)

Exposure Limits

When researching CO2 gas detection solutions, facility managers should be aware of the following CO2 exposure limits:

Exposure Limits Agency
5000 ppm TWA OSHA PEL (General Industry)
5000 ppm TWA OSHA PEL (Construction Industry)
5000 ppm TWA OSHA PEL (Maritime)
5000 ppm TWA, 30,000 ppm STEL ACGIH TLV
5000 ppm TWA, 30,000 ppm STEL NIOSH REL
40,000 ppm NIOSH IDLH

Products for CO2 Gas Detection

Technology for CO2 Gas Detection

Infrared (IR) Sensors

Infrared sensors offer a large range of measurement, providing accurate and stable detection. No matter how high a concentration of a gas is, it cannot oversaturate a sensor. Infrared technology is made to detect light hydrocarbons, but does not respond to hydrogen. Although sturdy and reliable, gas sensors come at a higher upfront cost.

Learn more about the advantages of using Sierra Monitor's infrared gas sensor modules »