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Carbon dioxide: The safety hazard of Carbonated Beverage systems

May 03, 2019

Carbonated beverage

Why do I need a CO2 gas detection solution?

Carbon dioxide is well used throughout the food and drink supply chain adding bubbles to soda, beer and cider, but is also used during bottling, kegging and the transportation of beverages to the consumer.

At very low levels CO2 is harmless and exists naturally in the atmosphere, but increases due to leaks from CO2 bottles or the piping which transports the gas to different areas of large and small establishments including cafes, bars, stores, stadiums, restaurants, beverage dispensing and industrial operations can be harmful to humans and if left undetected, fatal.

CO2 monitoring regulations are becoming more commonly enforced after recent poisonings and emergency incidents across North America. The gas is tasteless, odorless and colorless making it undetectable by human senses.


What are the symptoms of CO2 exposure?

Workers and customers who are exposed to higher concentration levels of CO2 will start to experience harmful effects at just a 0.5% increase. These side effects include fatigue, tachycardia, and blurred vision. If left to increase further those exposed may experience respiratory function problems, kidney damage, coma or even death.

Carbon dioxide levels in the blood can also increase if exposed to high levels of CO2 causing carbon dioxide toxicity. If this occurs the affected person needs to be removed from the toxic environment by someone who is on respiratory equipment and treated with oxygen therapy. The risk area should be immediately ventilated in a safe way.

The effects of CO2 on the human body


What do regulations recommend to protect staff and customers from dangerous CO2 leaks?

OSHA (Occupational Safety and Health Association) mandate that all industrial organizations, restaurants, convenience stores, bars, theatres, stadiums or any establishment which deliver or work with dispense CO2 as part of their daily operation should

  • ‘ Develop and implement a procedure to monitor the atmosphere for CO2 and provide local ventilation where levels may exceed the PEL.’


  • ‘We recommend that appropriate warning signs be affixed outside those areas where high concentrations of carbon dioxide gas can accumulate.’

While overarching government regulatory organizations stipulate use and requirements for CO2 monitoring, municipalities have the authority to create their own local Authority, having jurisdiction codes. As long as the code requirements are not lessened the municipality can interpret the regulations how they like.


International Fire Code: 2018 IFC

There are two different sections in this code regulation CO2: 2018 IFC- Section 5307 Compressed Gases Not Otherwise Regulated; 5307.3 Insulated liquid carbon dioxide systems used in beverage dispensing applications; 5307.3.1, a gas detection system where ventilation is not provided in accordance with Section; 5307.3.1, a gas detection system shall be provided in rooms or indoor areas and in below -grade outdoor locations with insulated carbon dioxide systems.

And again referenced atChapter 50 Hazardous Materials – General Provisions; 5005.1.12Emergency Isolation. Where gases or liquids having a hazard ranking of Health Class 3 an approved means of leak detection shall be provided.

Recommended alarm set points are suggested as an audible and visible supervisory alarm of a concentration of 5,000 ppm; 5307.3.2.2. And an audible and visible alarm of a concentration of 30,000 ppm , but these are open to interpretation by the particular state or municipality.


National Fire Protection Association: 2016 NFPA 55 Compressed Gases and Cryogenic Fluids Code

A recent NFPA code for CO2 detection received national attention. This code mandates a CO2 detector be placed in beverage dispensing applications where 100 lbs or more of CO2 are stored. Retail operations, such as gas stations, restaurants, bars, and other facilities fall under this code.

2016 Edition: 2016 NFPA 55 Chapter 13 Insulated Liquid Carbon Dioxide Systems; 13.2 Uninsulated Carbon Dioxide Compressed Gas Systems. The storage, use, and handling of Carbon Dioxide in uninsulated systems shall be in accordance with the provisions of Chapter 13 and Chapters 1 through 7; 13.10 Carbon Dioxide Beverage Systems; 13.10.1 General. Systems with more than 100lb. of Carbon Dioxide used in beverage dispensing applications shall comply with 13.10.2 through 13.10.4; 13.10.2 Equipment... in rooms, and other areas where a leak of carbon dioxide can collect shall be provided with…an emergency alarm system in accordance with Rooms or areas where container systems are filled and used indoors or in enclosed outdoor locations shall be provided with a gas detection and alarm system that shall be capable of detecting and notifying…at, or in excess of PEL and STEL.


What is PEL and STEL?

PEL- Permissible Exposure Limit is 5,000ppm (0.5%) CO2 Time Weighted Average (TWA) over 8 hours

STEL - Short Term Exposure Limit 30,000ppm (3%) CO2


National Board Inspection Code for ASME pressure vessels: 2017 NBIC: Two Supplements of NBIC

Applicable to Liquid Carbon Dioxide Storage Vessels; 2017 NBIC Part 1 Supplement 3 for

Installations; 2017 NBIC Part 2 Supplement 12 for Inspections. Both NBIC Supplements specify “a continuous gas detection shall be provided in the room or area where container systems are filled and used, in areas where heavier than air gas can congregate and in below grade outdoor locations.”


Compressed Gas Association: CGA G-6.5 – 2013 Standard for Small Stationary Insulated Carbon Dioxide Supply Systems Fourth Edition (non-Regulatory): 3.6

Carbon Dioxide leak detection system: Indoor areas, rooms, or enclosed outdoor locations where small insulated carbon dioxide systems are filled and used shall be provided with a leak detection and alarm system. This system shall be capable of detecting and notifying at, or in excess of, PEL and the STEL.

This is not the only list of regulations and codes that exist, please check your local state and federal regulations.

CO2 exposure limit standardOSHA CO2 exposure limits


CO2 detection systems protect your business and employees

Whichever code your local municipality follows, there will be reference to safely monitoring CO2. Installing a simple CO2 monitor can reduce the potential effect on your organization, youmust consider the safety of your staff and customers as a priority, but also leak prevention can save costs.

Read more about what we offer to satisfy all codes mentioned above and reassured that your personnel and customers are safe from any potential threats of CO2 exposure.