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Old 01-12-2005, 10:23 PM   #1
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CO2 dangers

This could probably be in the planted section, but I felt everyone should see it. I notice that many people are adding co2 to their tanks. This info mostly applies to pressurized co2, not DIY.
1. co2 is not toxic, but can displace oxygen If you keep your setup in a small space, leakage could result in a bad atmosphere. Co2 is odorles, colorless and tasteless, so you would not know there was a problem till you keeled over. This could apply to DIY setups. Secure all containers and check for leaks with soapy water.
2. When co2 comes out of a compressed cylinder, it changes from a liquid to a gas. This gas is minus 110 degrees F. and can cause instant tissue damage. It also generates a strong static discharge, so if you were holding a unregulated cylinder and opened the valve you could get a good shock. Not dangerous but could cause you to drop the bottle.
Use co2 of what ever type but use a little common sense.

Doran Hayes
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Old 01-12-2005, 10:50 PM   #2
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I would like to put this in the planted section, as it is good advice. CO2 is what doctors use to "freeze" lesions off your skin, so you can imagine how cold it is. Good to keep these things in mind.

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Old 01-12-2005, 11:00 PM   #3
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Excellent advice, Bassnman.

Having worked in a research laboratory with compressed gases, I would like to add a few more comments.

CO2 is heavier than air. If your setup is located below grade, as in a basement, be especially mindful of this fact, since escaped CO2 would have nowhere to go. Use the correct regulator and make sure your apparatus is not leaking.

Be sure to secure the cylinder when in use and take great care when moving or storing them. Always store cylinders with the cap screwed on to protect the exposed valve stem. If a cylinder is dropped or tips over, the valve stem could be knocked off. This would result in a small, but deadly CO2-powered missile loose in your home. I've heard stories from my institution's safety officer about out-of-control compressed gas cylinders going through cinderblock walls! 8O
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Old 01-12-2005, 11:07 PM   #4
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That reminds me, when shopping for tanks I saw several that had no "collar" (or whatever you call it) around the valve stem, so if it did topple over the stem is not protected. The valve stem on mine is protected in case of a fall.

All of this is good info and important to keep in mind, but in terms of your chances of a mishap with CO2, you are WAY more likely to have a spill and giant mess with a DIY mix that escapes out of your 2 liter bottle. I don't want people to be afraid of using CO2, but common sense and a little education is in order.
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Old 01-13-2005, 12:26 AM   #5
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Good points about CO2 cylinders. I would like to add that the danger is mostly the explosion/missile hazzard with pressurized tanks. There was a report of someone dropping a D cylinder <this is the kind we use in the OR> in a US hospital a few years ago, the stem broke, the tank blew a hole through a wall & killed someone in the next room.

The risk is smaller in the home CO2 setup, since the tank is smaller. But I would be careful to never drop a loaded cylinder & always secure a tank before turning it on.

As for CO2 posioning, I won't worry too much in DIY setups. There simply is not enough CO2 in a 2l DIY bottle to cause trouble. A big tank turned on full blast may displace enough air in a small space to cause problems, but slow leaks should present minimal risk.

CO2 is not nearly as dangerous as CO (carbon monoxide) - which is the silent killer. High CO2 will cause you to breath fast & feel very short of breath & you will know something is wrong before you pass out! You should have at least a few minutes to get fresh air. <Only exception is if you have emphysema or some lung problem when you are already retaining CO2 - in which case your CO2 sensor is kaput & you might have no warning ..... Disclaimer - This is starting to sound too medical. I am NOT giving medical advice .... check with you own Dr. for your own specific health info>
80 gal FW with 30 gal DIY wet/dry/sump.
9 fancy golds, 1 hillstream loaches, 1 rubber-lip pleco (C. thomasi), 3 SAEs, small school of white cloud minnows, planted.
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