CO2 Hazards

My coworkers and I aren’t sure if the burning nostrils we experience when we blow down a fermenter is CO2 or the volatiles from the beer. Can you enlighten us? How hazardous is CO2 anyways?

The Safety Exchange Says: We are worried that you are working in a brewery and don’t know the hazards, signs, and symptoms of carbon dioxide. The first thing we suggest is thoroughly reading a Safety Data Sheet for CO2. You can get it from your CO2 supplier or from the Internet.

CO2 is a colorless, odorless gas produced during beer fermentation and also used in dispensing systems. CO2 displaces oxygen in enclosed areas and when it accumulates it can lead to dizziness, loss of consciousness, and death. Although CO2 causes a burning, acrid sensation in the nasal passages, this symptom should not be used as a means of detecting the gas. You should only rely on a calibrated gas monitor.

In spaces where CO2 might accumulate, such as low areas in a fermentation cellar or in a walk-in cooler, it is often best to use active ventilation to disperse the CO2. Check for leaks regularly and use the buddy system.