Best Carbon Dioxide Monitors (for Breweries & Beverage)
Carbon dioxide monitors are used in breweries and the beverage industry in order to monitor levels of carbon dioxide exposure and ensure that workers are getting an adequate level of oxygen while at work. This device is frequently abbreviated to a CO2 monitor or CO2 meter. These monitors often alarm workers when an unsafe level of carbon dioxide has been reached. Carbon dioxide accumulation is dangerous in breweries and the beverage industries due to its critical use in these markets.
What is CO2?
CO2, or carbon dioxide, is a molecular compound composed of two parts oxygen and one part carbon. It is essential for biological function of many organisms, however it can also pose a danger to humans in high levels of concentration.
Is CO2 Dangerous?
Exposure to high levels of carbon dioxide can be dangerous. At regular levels, around 400-1,000 ppm, carbon dioxide is perfectly safe. When it gets more concentrated, such as at 5,000 ppm, toxicity and oxygen deprivation have the potential to take place.
What Are Symptoms of Carbon Dioxide Overexposure?
Inhaling carbon dioxide can have negative effects on the body. Some symptoms of overexposure may include the following:
- Rapid breathing
- Rapid heart rate
- Emotional distress
Over time with continued exposure, more serious symptoms may appear including the following:
Where Does CO2 Gas Rest in the Air?
Carbon dioxide gas naturally rests at ground level. This occurs because carbon dioxide gas is 1.5 times heavier than oxygen, so its sits below the oxygen present in the environment.
What is the Difference Between Food-Grade CO2 and Regular CO2?
The "grade" of CO2 describes the purity of the gas. Such purity is influenced by oxygen concentration, nitrogen concentration, the presence of carbon monoxide, and more. "Regular" CO2 may also be synonymous with industrial-grade CO2 and describes a purity of 99.5% carbon dioxide while food- and beverage-grade CO2 describes a purity of 99.9% carbon dioxide.
Is CO2 a Danger in Breweries?
Carbon dioxide can become a danger in breweries when it reaches an elevated concentration. It can cause serious symptoms and even death in some cases.
Where Does the CO2 Come From in a Brewery?
Carbon dioxide is produced in several steps of the brewing process.
Carbon Dioxide from Carbonation
The carbonation of soft drinks requires the addition of carbon dioxide to the beverage.
Carbon Dioxide from Fermentation
Adding carbon dioxide to suppress oxygen is a technique to draw out certain flavors in a given beverage over time.
Carbon Dioxide in Pressurization & Rinsing
When adding carbon dioxide to containers used to preserve flavor, internal pressure is created. Such containers also use carbon dioxide during cleaning.
Carbon Dioxide for Inerting
Carbon dioxide can be used to reduce the reaction between fruit juice and oxygen. This is used to prevent further fermentation when the drink has already fermented to satisfaction.
Is Carbon Dioxide Also a Problem for a Winery?
Carbon dioxide is also a problem for wineries. Like breweries, wineries also use fermentation and other similar processes that utilize carbon dioxide to produce their products. As such, they should adhere to similar precautions when it comes to monitoring the concentration of carbon dioxide present.
Is CO2 a Problem When Bottling Beverages and Carbonated Drinks?
Yes, carbon dioxide can become a problem when bottling beverages and carbonated drinks. During this process, carbon dioxide is used to prefill every bottle in anticipation for it to be filled with the beer. As such, there is the potential of overexposure of carbon dioxide, however this can be remedied by monitoring carbon dioxide levels during the bottling process.
How Do Breweries Reduce the Presence of CO2?
When carbon dioxide levels reach excessive concentrations that pose a danger to humans, the first course of action is to evacuate the area. Once everyone has been safely evacuated, workers can seek to reduce the presence of carbon dioxide through two different means: the ring main or manual removal.
Have There Been Any Serious Injuries as a Result of CO2 in a Brewery?
Yes, there have been. There have been deaths, even, as a result of carbon dioxide exposure in a brewery. Some examples include the following:
- In 2011, a man was killed while working at a brewery as a result of carbon dioxide overexposure.
- In 2012, two men were killed while working at a brewery as a result of carbon dioxide overexposure.
Are There Laws That Require CO2 Monitoring in a Brewery?
Yes, there are OSHA requirements that limit the amount of exposure of carbon dioxide that workers and other individuals are allowed to come into contact with at breweries.
What Are the OSHA Requirements for CO2 in a Brewery?
In regards to carbon dioxide overexposure in breweries, OSHA has set exposure limits. For an eight-hour period, the limit is 5,000 ppm, while for a ten-minute period, the limit is 30,000 ppm. Technically, OSHA does not require the use of a carbon dioxide monitor, however it is advisable to use one as this will reduce the chances or violating OSHA's gas exposure limits in addition to better protecting workers.
Do Restaurants Require CO2 Monitoring?
Restaurants require the monitoring of carbon dioxide if they use dispense gas. These safety monitors are required in these situations in order to protect workers and patrons from experiencing dangerous levels of carbon dioxide exposure. In addition to monitoring carbon dioxide, these establishments are also now required to have effective ventilation and an emergency alarm system.
Why Do Breweries Require a CO2 Monitor?
Most breweries require the use of a carbon dioxide monitor, or should require the use of a carbon dioxide monitor, to protect employees from potential overexposure of carbon dioxide. Employees can experience unsafe levels of carbon dioxide in a number of daily functions at the brewery. Such functions may include: cleaning the tanks used for fermentation, accessing walk-in coolers, and working with yeast disposal among other tasks.
What Are the Best CO2 Monitors for Brewing and the Beverage Industry?
In selecting a carbon dioxide monitor, be sure to select one that will best suit your needs. If visibility is needed, a jumbo carbon dioxide monitor may be a great option.
For brewing and the beverage industry, some excellent carbon monoxide detectors include the following:
- Forensics Detectors (Wall Plug-In Monitor)
- Forensics Detectors (Jumbo Monitor)
- Forensics Detectors Analyzer (Personal Monitor)
- GasLab (Personal Monitor)
- PK Safety (Personal Monitor)
- CO2 Meter (Remote Alarm)
Is CO2 Heavier or Lighter Than Air?
CO2 is about 1.5 times heavier than air. That means any CO2 that is released has the propensity to stay low to the ground.
Where Should a CO2 Monitor Be Placed in a Brewery?
- Ideally, employees working within breweries should have access to a portable carbon dioxide monitor at all times so that they can safely check their exposure regardless of where they are.
- Carbon dioxide monitors should be placed around any area that has the potential to have an increased concentration of carbon dioxide. Of particular concern are areas and tanks used for fermentation.
- CO2 monitors should NOT be placed high on the wall, however, should be placed lower than normal, to detect any CO2 accumulation as early as possible.
How Can CO2 Monitors Benefit Brewers?
Carbon dioxide monitors can benefit brewers in two main ways.
For one, using a carbon dioxide monitor has the potential to save lives. No brewer wants to experience the tragedy that is losing an employee to carbon dioxide overexposure. Unfortunately, this has happened in the past, but using a carbon dioxide monitor may prevent this from happening in the future.
The use of carbon dioxide monitors also serves to protect brewers from potential OSHA violations and other regulatory violations, depending on the geographical location of operation. Brewers who are not abiding by OSHA's regulations may find themselves in legal trouble that is costly and time-consuming.
How Much CO2 Does a Brewery Use?
The amount of carbon dioxide that a brewery uses varies by its size. Larger breweries will use and emit more carbon dioxide than a smaller brewery. For instance, a brewery with a size of around 130,000 square feet will emit 250 grams of CO2 per six-pack produced.
How Much Does a Carbon Dioxide Monitor Cost?
Carbon dioxide monitors have a wide range of cost. For instance, of the five that were highlighted earlier, either the Forensics Detectors Jumbo Monitor or the Forensics Detectors Plug-In Monitor are on the lower side of cost at $95.00 while the PK Safety Monitor is on the higher side with a cost of $920.00.
Is CO2 gas the same as CO gas?
CO2 is Carbon Dioxide and CO is Carbon Monoxide. They are both different gases used for different purposes with different toxicity levels. Never confuse these two gases although their chemical symbols and names are similar.
- Carbon dioxide is a dangerous, colorless gas that has the potential to sicken or even kill brewery employees.
- Carbon dioxide is represented by the chemical symbol CO2.
- Brewers and their employees should take the proper steps needed to ensure that the potential for overexposure to carbon dioxide is as low as possible. This can be accomplished through using a carbon dioxide monitor to measure carbon dioxide levels.
- It is best to equip all employees with a portable carbon dioxide monitor, but if this is not possible, be sure to place the carbon dioxide monitors in places that are easily visible to employees.
About The Author
Dr. Koz is the President of FORENSICS DETECTORS, where the company operates from the scenic Palos Verdes Peninsula in Los Angeles, California. He is a subject matter expert on gas sensor technology, gas detectors, gas meters, and gas analyzers. He has been designing, building, manufacturing and testing toxic gas detection systems for over 20 years.
Every day is a blessing for Dr. Koz. He loves to help customers solve their unique problems. Dr. Koz also loves spending time with his wife and his three children going to the beach, grilling burgers, and having a cold beer.
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