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    CO2 vs. CO? What's so important when choosing a Safety Monitor?

    door to co2meter

    In our ever-advancing world, it becomes increasingly important to understand the basics of the environment around us.

    In the gas detection world understanding the gases you are measuring is even more important because of the difficulties associated with measuring each gas.

    The most important delineation we must make with customers is the difference between Carbon Dioxide (CO2) and Carbon Monoxide (CO).

    Many people believe the two gases to be the same thing and often are confused because both are advertised as “silent killers".

    You can't hear, smell or see them, but these gases are both extremely hazardous; and understanding their differences is vital.

    Let's Talk Gases

    Our starting point will be "how the gases are produced".

    CO2 is a naturally occurring gas and rarely is created by humans. It forms from processes like burning fossil fuels, fermentation, decomposition of organic matter, and even human respiration.

    CO on the other hand, is entirely man made and does not appear naturally in our atmosphere like CO2.

    You will find that CO occurs most often due to the incomplete combustion of fossil fuels like gasoline, oil, and coal.

    While both can be found in the work place, or even at home, knowing where concentrations or leakages could occur is very important to one’s overall health and safety.


    CO can be a flammable gas in higher concentrations and devices to measure carbon monoxide in these concentrations; are normally designed to be explosion proof. 

    CO2 is a non-flammable, inert gas with no explosive properties.

    Deadly Concentrations

    Another common misconception is that the concentration at which CO and CO2 are deadly is identical. However, nothing could be further from the truth.

    OSHA lists danger levels for CO starting at 35 ppm, and for CO2 starting at a 5,000 ppm time weighted average.

    Therefore, there is a need for respective sensing technologies and monitoring devices in order to detect them.

    Would you be able to understand which gas to detect and properly monitor in your industry, environment or application?

    CO & CO2 Applications

    Typical CO emissions are found near cars, on freeways, in service/repair shops, parking garages, and near gas fired furnaces and boilers.

    Common CO2 emissions are found in breweries, restaurants, welding, food packaging, and industrial off-gassing.

    Because CO2 and CO are commonly lumped together many people believe you can monitor both gases together, yet this is another false statement.

    Carbon Monoxides molecular weight is 28 meaning that you will find the gas somewhere between the middle to the top of a room. Carbon Dioxides molecular weight is 44.1 meaning that you will find the gas collecting near the floor. 

    Sensors need to be mounted at the appropriate heights to do their work.

    These misnomers also lead to the common misconception that you can buy an accurate CO and CO2 monitor at your local hardware or big box store.

    While we'd love to have Lowe's or Home Depot carry our devices (call our sales team if you have a contact at either) they do not offer CO2 monitors and only sell the basic of CO detectors to keep your home "safe". 

    Since CO is a lighter gas than air, when choosing a Fixed Wall Mount Device; these need to be placed towards the ceiling in order to properly detect harmful CO levels.

    On the contrary, CO2 gas is in fact heavier than air and tends to collect on the floor, so CO2 Monitors such as the RAD-0102-6 should always be placed 18 in. above the floor - to detect increased levels and to ensure safety!

    One critical final factor is understanding and educating yourself, your families, and your employees about the symptoms for both gases to arm yourself in the event of an emergency.

    Typical symptoms of CO2 exposure include: decreased focus, cotton/dry mouth, disorientation, narrowed field of vision, increased heart rate, sweating, fatigue, muscle tremors, and shortness of breath.

    CO exposure symptoms include: headache, dizziness, weakness, upset stomach, vomiting, chest pain, and confusion.

    Regardless of whether you work in any industries mentioned above, leaks and over exposure to these gases can occur around you each and everyday.

    Being able to prevent potential injuries from occurring is the best preventive first step you can take.

    What are you waiting for?

    For more information on CO2 and CO Safety Monitors speak to an expert today by calling (877) 678-4259 or by emailing Sales@CO2Meter.com

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