With the recent development and news about multiple COVID vaccines becoming available, a new problem has emerged, that of transporting and storing the vaccines. This complication is due to the vaccines needing to be stored at below freezing for long term storage and transportation. In particular the Pfizer COVID vaccine needs to be stored at -70 Degrees C. The result is the use for dry ice for transportation and cold rooms for long term storage. This presents a unique problem for both transportation staff, storage staff and doctors – the toxic dangers of CO2. This article will help highlight the dangers of carbon dioxide as a result from Dry Ice and IGD’s carbon dioxide detection solutions, both portable and fixed.
Dangers of Dry Ice:
Dry Ice is unique, it is frozen carbon dioxide and is commonly used in many sectors most notably the hospitality and laboratory industries. In normal ambient temperate the dry CO2 will go from a solid form straight to a gaseous state, thus skipping the liquid state. This is also called sublimation (1) . Dry Ice has become the go to solution for transporting and storing the vaccine due to its flexibility and transportability. However, this poses a specific danger, that of a toxic nature. Carbon dioxide is listed as a toxic gas under UK COSHH and EH 40 regulations (2). The below information shows the exposure levels of CO2 in the UK.
- Short Term Exposure (15 minutes) – 1.5% (15,000ppm)
- Long Term Exposure (8 Hours) – 0.5% (5000ppm_
Since dry ice is liberating carbon dioxide in ambient temperature, in a non-ventilated or poorly ventilated room the liberated CO2 can easily produce a very toxic hazard. For example, as explained on the Linde Gas website (3), 1kg of dry ice can easily liberate up to 541 litres of toxic gaseous carbon dioxide. If the area goes unmonitored then those transporting dry ice or in the area where dry ice is being used, personnel can quickly become overcome by the dangerous levels of CO2. Therefore, it is important to have carbon dioxide detection in place to monitor the environment you are working in, whether you are: delivery driver transporting the vaccine, storage personnel, scientists, or healthcare personnel.
Carbon Dioxide Detection Solutions:
Now that you understand more about the hazard associated with Dry Ice and CO2, next comes the important question, with so many carbon dioxide detection solutions available, how do you choose the right one? International Gas Detectors has been designing and manufacturing gas detection solutions for over 100 years in the UK. We are the world’s oldest, independent gas detection manufacture. As part of extensive gas detection portfolio, we design and manufacture a range of carbon dioxide detection solutions to meet your requirements, from portable devices to fixed solutions.
Portable Carbon Dioxide Detectors – These are portable carbon dioxide detection devices. Portables are ideal for when you are transporting dry ice, either via vehicle transportation or transporting dry ice from one lab to another. The portable carbon dioxide detection device provides a mobile detector which protects employees on the move or in confined areas, alerting the user to any dangerous build-up of carbon dioxide. Our CO2-CHUM or the iGAS CO2 personal monitor, is an ideal solution for portable carbon dioxide detection. Further to this our article – Choosing the Right Carbon Dioxide Detector – discusses this in more detail and provides some useful solutions.
Fixed carbon Dioxide detection – We can provide a variety of fixed carbon dioxide detectors using our leading addressable (digital) gas detection technology. It is important to have a fixed/permanent carbon dioxide detection system in place for where you are utilising dry ice such as storing or transporting the new COVID vaccine. The fixed detectors will provide continuous detection of the area. If any dangerous levels of CO2 are detected, the system can immediately ventilate the area, allowing employees to evacuate and alert safety personnel.
The TOCSIN 635 mounted gas detection control panel is ideal gas safety solution for small to medium size applications such as cold stores. The system features our automatic alarm system setup wizard, enabling clients to commission their own IGD carbon dioxide detection system quickly and error free. In addition, all detectors are connected on a single 2-Core cable (daisy chained together). This drastically reduces installation costs compared to older, dated 4-20mA detectors.
Our 750 series safe area detectors provide carbon dioxide detection in both 0-5000ppm and 0-5% VOL detection ranges. This is dependant on the application, which we can assist with. In addition, each sensor has built in I/O capability, allowing you to locally control audible visual alarms, shut off devices and increase ventilation, straight from the nearest detector. Thus, drastically reducing installation costs and site disturbance. Finally, our Infrared CO2 detectors have a leading lifetime of 5 years+.
Get in touch with our team today to discuss your gas detection requirements.
- U.S Geological Survey; “Frozen carbon dioxide (dry ice) sublimates directly into a vapor.” Link: https://www.usgs.gov/media/images/frozen-carbon-dioxide-dry-ice-sublimates-directly-a-vapor#:~:text=Sublimation%20and%20the%20water%20cycle,with%20no%20intermediate%20liquid%20stage.&text=%22Dry%20ice%22%20is%20actually%20solid,C%20(%2D109.3%C2%B0F) [Accessed 10th December 2020]
- Health and Safety Executive: “EH40/2005 Workplace exposure limits” Link: https://www.hse.gov.uk/pubns/books/eh40.htm [Accessed 10th December 2020]
- Linde Gas “Safety Advice 9- Handling and Usage of Dry Ice” Link: https://www.linde-gas.nl/nl/images/Handling%20and%20usage%20of%20dry%20ice_tcm172-72937.pdf [Accessed 10th December 2020]