Dry ice safety was a key focus this afternoon as part of gasworld’s virtual CO2 event, held at a time when demand is arguably higher than ever due Covid-19 vaccine storage and transportation needs.

“With dry ice we deal with several hazards, handling and asphyxiation are the two paramount ones, but also employee safety, and that’s probably the most difficult one,” Josh Pringle, Vice-President of Business Development at CO2 Meter told event attendees.

“The long-term storage of vaccines is critical and ultra-cold storage units are the best way to do it. However, what’s being identified is that most of the smaller medical facilities and local pharmacies are not equipped and do not have the ability, or its too prohibitive, to purchase the device.”

“As a result of that, they’re left with having to repack the dry ice to keep the vaccines at their ideal temperatures. The main issue here is that most of the staff are not trained or educated on the creation, use or the safe handling, or the safety infrastructure, needed to be able to repack these vaccines carefully and appropriately.”

“It’s really difficult because you’re [the facility/company] is asking people to come up to speed very quickly on the on the intricacies of ultra-cold CO2, or dry ice, and that’s not an easy standard or ability for someone to grasp very quickly.”

Whilst telling event attendees about some of the hurdles that have emerged due to increased dry ice demand, partially due to the Covid-19 vaccine, Pringle highlighted some regulations for CO2 safety.

“Typically, what you’ll see here across the world is that there are some standards for CO2 safety, but they rarely, if ever, touch on the dangers or need for safety infrastructure around dry ice.”

“Those standards, we believe, are about to change both because of the expanded need for dry ice with the vaccines and also the expanded need in food production, but also because of some recent incidents, not just with CO2 and dry ice, but also with liquid nitrogen.”

“We feel and expect that within the next three to five years that you will start to see codes and regulations around the safe handling and storage,” he continued.

Referring to some standards that are currently in place today, Pringle referred to the Compress Gas Association’s (CGA’s) standard for the safe handling and storage of dry ice.

“They’ve been able to push that out to gas distributors worldwide in order for them to make themselves, their employees and their customers aware of the safe handling and storage of dry ice,” Pringle said.

“The main component from that CGA standard for us, is that you should be using only CO2 monitoring for dry storage, never low oxygen or asphyxiation monitoring. We appreciate the CGA’s work in this and appreciate them being able to push that out to the market.”

Monitoring devices

After touching on his recent observations, Pringle then went on the highlight some devices that can help those handling dry ice increase their safety. With CO2Meter’s innovations in focus, Pringle explained that the market still tends to use wired devices.

“Wi-Fi and Bluetooth signals still are fairly unreliable, especially in more industrial settings with concrete and steel. With wired devices, we’re still using typically cable to transmit those readings for accurate measurements, as well as any necessity to report information.”

“Users will also want to make sure the device has the relevant audible and visual alarms as well as relays. And lastly, users want to make sure that the devices are meeting the standards for which local jurisdiction or state or municipality they are in.”

Speaking on the current demand for such devices, Pringle, added, “We’ve certainly seen a tremendous increase in the market from the driver’s perspective, people searching for devices to keep themselves and their customers safe in high dry ice environments.”

“In addition to those devices, we’ve also seen a tremendous rise because of Covid-19 from the potential need for monitoring for indoor air quality. There has been recent research being released from multiple sources indicating that CO2 measurement in indoor air quality is a vital statistic needed to measure the efficacy and long-lasting nature of the virus in an environment.”

“The state of Washington recently released regulations that require hospitality facilities wanting to open for indoor dining to measure their CO2 levels at no more than 450 parts per million. Those indoor air quality devices are vital for folks in Washington state and elsewhere to be able to measure the CO2 and thus the efficacy of the virus in the indoor air quality environment.”