In many labs, carbon dioxide (CO2) is used for varied purposes. In many cases, CO2 is used to feed incubators in an isolated room. The CO2 is commonly piped into the room from a liquid CO2 source located elsewhere. Caution should be used in this case as all too often an end user with the best of intentions will install an oxygen depletion monitor in this area presuming to detect a leak of CO2.
In this case the results could be extremely dangerous or fatal. CO2 in high levels is a toxic gas. A worker entering an area where a CO2 leak is present would be overcome by the gas well before the oxygen depletion sensor activated any alarm. When using CO2, a carbon dioxide detection sensor (preferably an infrared type) should be in service -- not an oxygen depletion sensor.
All gas detection sensors should be calibrated annually at intervals recommended by the manufacturer. Failure to calibrate the sensors can result in false alarms or no alarm at all rendering a false sense of security in an inactive system. Don't be lulled into believing that just because the detection system is on the wall that it is active. If in doubt, ask your EHS manager about the frequency of the calibrations. Better safe than sorry.
For additional information regarding the detection of various gases please feel free to call us at 617-387-5050 x 3320 or 3345.
Specialty Gas Manager
Middlesex Gases & Technologies