This is a risk perception bulletin. Carbon dioxide

Posted on2022-07-08 by

What is carbon dioxide?

Carbon dioxide is a colourless and odorless gas that occurs naturally in normal air (0.037%) but is suffocating in high concentrations.

Carbon dioxide has many industrial uses, but is often found as a product of the combustion of organic materials or as an emission from various metal processes.

Headaches and dizziness may occur at concentrations of about 5% or more and at higher concentrations may cause an increased heart rate and blood pressure, resulting in dyspnea and loss of consciousness.

A large number of occupational exposures and deaths are caused by encountering gas at entrances in confined spaces.

How could carbon dioxide affect me?

Workplace exposures to carbon dioxide in particular can have serious short-term health effects from acute exposures.

Acute health effects due to production or manufacture

  • Asphyxiation
  • Cardiovascular effects, discomfort, headache, shortness of breath
  • Burns from contact with liquid and solid forms

Chronic health effects due to metallurgical production or manufacture

  • Limited information is available on long-term exposures to carbon dioxide or chronic health effects, however metabolic acidosis and cardiovascular and neurological effects have been reported.

When do workplace exposures occur?


Workplace exposures to carbon dioxide in the manufacturing and metallurgical production sectors arise from inhalation of the gas, often generated as a by-product of the combustion of organic materials (production of coke and anodes) or from the emission from foundry furnaces, oxygen furnaces and degassing operations in the production of primary metals or other processes.


The secondary mode of exposure is through contact of solid or liquid carbon dioxide with the skin and eyes.

Activities/applications where occupational exposures may occur

Examples of applications in manufacturing and metallurgical production as well as other industries and processes where people may be exposed to carbon dioxide:

Production of metals, metal fabrication and related aspects

Iron and steel:

  • Coke ovens
  • Casting processes (processing of e.g. steel and other alloys from carbon additives in sand casting)

Manufacture from materials of any heading

  • Melting: emissions from pots
  • Manufacture of graphite electrodes (e.g. manufacture of anodes for the aluminium sector)

Other applications

  • Combustion of fuels and organic materials, e.g. as a component of engine emissions
  • Fermentation and beer production sectors
  • Use as refrigerant
  • Use in the food and beverage sectors for carbonated beverages
  • Firefighting sectors
  • Welding as protection against gases

What can I do to protect myself?

Use appropriate controls

Companies should carry out a risk assessment in addition to determining exposure levels against exposure limits to know what control measures they may need.

If necessary, controls from the control hierarchy should be implemented and their effectiveness measured. For example, localized extraction systems (LEVs) can be a highly effective engineering control, used in welding, sanding and many other applications.

Get the necessary equipment.

In addition to implementing other control measures, the use of personal protective equipment (PPE), such as respiratory protective equipment (PPE), is usually required to minimise exposure and risk to workers.

Respiratory protective equipment (PRE): half masks with air supply

3M it has a wide variety of continuous and on-demand valve air-supplied semi-masks, suitable for use in some of the most demanding working environments.

Other PPE

3M it also offers a wide variety of different safety solutions you need to work safely, comfortably and effectively, such as:

  • Face, eye and head protection
  • Reusable and disposable earplugs and earmuffs
  • Communication solutions
  • Disposable and reusable protective clothing
  • Gloves suitable for protecting hands and skin
  • Protection against falls
  • Solutions for confined spaces
  • Individual gas and fixed detection systems
  • Fixed flame detection solutions


A key component of an effective PPE programme is the concept of training for workers, health and safety managers and companies in their different roles and responsibilities.

For example, workers using PPE should be instructed and informed of the following:

  • The nature of any hazardous substances present and the possible effects on your health.
  • How PPE is used, its function and limitations.
  • The correct fit and use of PPE.
  • The inspection, maintenance and hygiene of EPRs and also the identification of defective EPRs and how to address them.

Stay up to date

When choosing the right protective equipment, remember that it must comply with national or local regulations, laws and guidelines.

One of the tasks of the occupational health and safety department is to keep abreast of changes in legislation, occupational exposure limits, etc.

Technical assistance

When you wish, you can contact one of our EPR experts for personalised help in selecting and using 3M. What. Your job is to help you select the right products based on your risk assessment and also to help you know how to fit, use and preserve your EPR and to keep you healthy and safe so that you can focus on what's really important: doing your job right and staying healthy to enjoy with your loved ones and family.


The following TLVs: The American Conference of Governmental Industrial Hygienists (ACGIH)) is a. Threshold Limit Values for Chemical Substances and Physical Agents & Biological Exposure Indices (TLVs and BEIs). 2018

This is the NIOSH Pocket Guide: The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH). This is the NIOSH Pocket Guide to Chemical Hazards. [En línea] [consultado el 22 de no viembre 2018].

United Kingdom: Health and Safety Executive (HSE). General hazards of carbon dioxide. [En línea] [consultado el 17 de septiembre de 2018].

Other: Occupational hazards of carbon dioxide exposure. It is not possible to calculate the value of the product. It is therefore appropriate to exclude from the scope of this Regulation the use of additives. 2, pp. 18 to 22

Hazard Awareness Bulletin - Carbon Dioxide