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In typical ambient conditions dry ice sublimates. This means a direct transition from the solid form into gaseous CO2. The gas is 1.5 times heavier than air, so it descends to the ground gradually forcing out the air. You should be aware of that and provide sufficient ventilation when you work with dry ice in closed rooms. Gaseous CO2 is a natural product of human breathing; hence the common experience of stuffy air in poorly ventilated rooms occupied by a large group of people. Approximate concentrations of gaseous CO2 and their consequences:

  • 600ppm (0.06% V/V)         - acceptable fresh air conditions
  • 1.000ppm (0.1% V/V)        - hygienic minimum
  • 1.500ppm (0.15% V/V)     - stuffy and stale air
  • 5.000ppm (0.5% V/V)        - occupational exposure limits OEL – acceptable concentration in the course of 8h at work
  • 15.000ppm (1.5% V/V)     - short-term exposure limit STEL – maximum admissible concentration during 15 min at work
  • 50.000ppm (5% V/V)         - hindered breathing, vision disorders
  • 100.000ppm (10% V/V)    - loss of consciousness, suffocation

Although CO2 is heavier than air, it is assumed that up to the level of 3000ppm (0.3% VV) its concentration is homogenous in the whole room – due to air movement and mixing. This means that in case of the threat of too high CO2 concentration in our vicinity we should pay attention to the signals sent by our body (stuffy air, drowsiness) and take adequate actions.

Other recommendations as regards transport and use of dry ice:

SKIN PROTECTION : Direct skin contact with such a cold substance (-78.5°C) may give you frostbites! Please wear protective gloves and adequately protect other body parts exposed to dry ice.

EYE PROTECTION : Wear protective glasses at all times.

DO NOT INHALE : Please avoid inhaling CO2 vapours. High concentration may have severe health consequences, and in extreme cases may cause suffocation (read the passage above to learn more).

DO NOT SWALLOW : Swallowing dry ice may lead to severe internal injuries.

TRANSPORT : Dry ice should be transported only and exclusively in purpose-built insulating containers. Do not transport dry ice in passenger cars, and if this is unavoidable, remember about proper cabin ventilation in transport. Larger amounts of dry ice should preferably be transported in a trailer or a part of the vehicle that is separated from the passenger cabin. If the freight section where dry ice is carried is airtight, once it has been opened, it should be ventilated for several minutes before you enter it.

STORAGE : Dry ice should be stored in a proper insulated container, while the room should be ventilated. Dry ice should not be stored in sealed containers, bottles, cans, etc. – as the gas released during sublimation will increase pressure inside the container and lead to its uncontrolled burst.

KEEP AWAY FROM CHILDREN : Do not leave dry ice near children without supervision of an adult who knows how to handle this substance.