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This document discusses the health effects of exposure to elevated levels of carbon dioxide gas (CO2). We give references and explanation regarding Toxicity of Carbon Dioxide, based on literature search and search on Compuserve's Safety Forum by Dan Friedman. This is background information, obtained from expert sources. This text may assist readers in understanding these topics. However it should by no means be considered complete nor authoritative. Seek prompt advice from your doctor or health/safety experts if you have any reason to be concerned about exposure to toxic gases.
Links on this page also direct the reader to carbon monoxide gas information in a separate document. IF YOU SUSPECT ANY BUILDING GAS-RELATED POISONING GO INTO FRESH AIR IMMEDIATELY and get others out of the building, then call your fire department or emergency services for help.
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Hazard evaluation consists of comparing measurements of exposure (or dose) with exposures (doses) known to be safe or known to be hazardous. For the most part, because of biological variation, "no effect" levels are much easier to estimate than are "first effect" or other levels indicative of injury.
Toxic levels of carbon dioxide: According to occupational exposure and controlled atmosphere research into CO2 toxicology, CO2 is hazardous via direct toxicity at levels above 5%, concentrations not encountered in nature [except perhaps at or near an active volcano or at water-logged soils]. At these high levels there is risk of death from carbon dioxide poisoning. At lower levels there may health effects and there certainly are complaints of exposure at lower levels.
In the preceding section of this article, at CO2 POISONING SYMPTOMS we discussed symptoms of carbon dioxide exposure. On specific individuals, the effects of exposure to elevated levels of carbon dioxide (CO2) vary by individual and with exposure level, and exposure duration, ranging from drowsiness (perhaps at levels over 1000 ppm continuous exposure) to the toxic effects listed just above.
How might CO2 accumulate at a dangerous level in a residential property?
Carbon dioxide, CO2, from a small leak is unlikely to be dangerous, as it can be expected to be diluted with fresh air mixing in a building. But there can be exceptions in which carbon dioxide may accumulate and reach higher, even dangerous concentrations indoors.
Are the effects of breathing CO2 permanent?
Any detrimental effects of low-level CO2 exposure are reversible, including the long-term metabolic compensation required by chronic exposure to 3% CO2. -- "A Review of Human Health and Ecological Risks due to CO2 Exposure," American Geophysical Union, Spring Meeting 2001, abstract #H31C-13, Hepple, R. P.; Benson, S. M., 05/2001.
Ongoing Research on the Effects of Increased CO2 Exposure
Discussion with Esther Cook, a scientist researching the effects of low-level CO2 exposure. [Edited by Daniel Friedman].
I am a scientist interested in the effects of increased CO2 . We know that plants grow more luxuriantly, and that this must ultimately support more animal life. I have done a PubMed and Academic search and can find almost no studies. I did find a claim that burrowing rodents typically have 1 to 4% carbon dioxide in their burrows. I also found research on 7% carbon dioxide on the retinas of baby mice--because this level is deliberately used on human beings--preemie babies to help their lungs develop faster. I am in communication with the Idsos, who are plant experts and CO2 researchers. They can't find much either. So far I have found:
There are hundreds of plant studies, and greenhouses and aquariums routinely enrich with CO2 to enhance growth. But what about ourselves? Might it be the case that the results of [some] CO2 studies are politically incorrect, and that the science is has been suppressed.
There is an optimum CO2 concentration somewhere; it is higher than today's, and the individual human's life is being shortened by the panic on the subject. Of course, there is indeed such a thing as "too much of a good thing," andInspectAPedia.com® has examples of people who died when too much CO2 was produced in enclosed spaces.
It would be worth while to find out what the optimum CO2 level for humans and other animals actually is. Paleontological records show that about half the time since the Cambrian was spent at a very steady 10 degrees C above current averages.
This would be exactly room temperature, and I do not think that is an accident. Recent posts revealed why the Earth's temperatures would not rise above that point--increasing evaporation from the oceans would prevent any higher temperature, but we would get the conditions described in Genesis about Eden: a mist would water the ground.
Table of Health Effects & Hazards of Carbon dioxide Gas at Various Concentrations & Exposure Durations
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Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about the effects of acute or chronic exposure to elevated levels of carbon dioxide CO2
(re co, CO2 , + nox emissions from condensing gas boiler flues) - i require confirmation or indication how to confirm; that regular facial reddening is assoociated with CO2 (+/or other?) in flue gas exposure from adjacent dwellings, re two - likely - non compliant flues (front and back of a party wall).
Valerie, in addition to the technical notes above about the health effects of chronic or acute exposure to high levels of carbon dioxide, please also see CO2 POISONING SYMPTOMS
Question/Comment: CO2 Recommended TLV - TWA & TLV-STEL data
James Miller, USN Submarines Ret said:
Thanks Mr. Miller. Over at CO2 EXPOSURE LIMITS we include the published recommended CO2 exposure limits and data and also the document that you cited is both there and here among the reference citations. Summarizing, the ACGIH recommended limits for Carbon Dioxide are:
The NIOSH and ACGIH articles point out that in studies of CO2 exposure, there are narcotic effects at high CO2 exposures, stimulated (accelerated breathing) at 50,000 ppm, and also that ...
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