Safety For Working With Dry Ice19 Aug 2021 - Flaaim
Over the years, dry ice has gained popularity as the go-to cooling agent for various industries, airline catering, food preservation, or pharmaceutical commodity distribution. The non-toxic nature of the material and lack of a by-product has fueled its popularity in the market today. It is a solid form of carbon dioxide gas, so the preservative does not liquefy when exposed to higher temperatures; it sublimates-as such, working with it leaves your workstation mess-free.
Despite its advantages, care needs to be taken when handling dry ice. In solid form, the substance is non-toxic, but excessive exposure to carbon dioxide in a poorly ventilated area is detrimental when it sublimes. It can also cause harm in the solid form if not handled using the appropriate personal protective equipment. This gear, coupled with essential safety precautions, will enable you to avoid harm while using the cooling agent.
Before looking at the protective equipment that should be used when handling dry ice, here are the common uses of dry ice:
Uses Of Dry Ice
Transport and storage preservation: From commodities ranging from foodstuff to medicines requiring low temperatures for storage, dry ice is used as a preservative both during transportation and storage without spending a fortune on large refrigerators. The dry ice is simply packed in and around the commodities, maintaining low temperatures for extended periods. For long-term periods, thermal containers with dry ice work better.
Surface cleaning: Blast surface cleaning using solid carbon dioxide is an environmental-friendly method of polishing dirty surfaces, serving as an alternative to using chemicals and high water pressure jet cleaning. The substance immediately sublimes on impact, leaving no secondary waste to wipe off and no abrasion marks.
Coolant in industries: Dry ice is used as a quick coolant for various chemical processes that may require it in some chemical-related industries. For instance, it is used in condensation processes for the extraction of specific substances.
Here are some PPEs you should have before handling dry ice:
Common PPEs For Handling Dry Ice
- Thermally-insulated gloves or tongs: Never handle dry ice with bare skin. Due to the low temperature of the substance, any contact with your skin can cause extreme skin damage. Use a pair of thermally-insulated gloves or tongs instead.
- Face shield: Dry ice easily sublimes when exposed to slightly higher temperatures than its freezing point. While dry ice is not toxic, excessive exposure to carbon dioxide can cause harm, especially without proper ventilation. Ensure you wear a face shield while using dry ice.
- Lab coat: Lab coats protect you from any unintentional mess while working with dry ice and prevent direct contact between your skin and the dry ice.
Other Safety Precautions
When used as a preservative in sealed containers, the rapid sublimation of dry ice can cause pressure to build up in these containers, which may cause an explosion. If you happen to note any bulging containers while handling dry ice, secure the area and ask for professional help. Do not try to release the pressure yourself; you risk injury or worse.
Take The Necessary Precautions
Before handling dry ice, it’s crucial to receive proper training on the hazards of the task. Where children are involved, they can handle the substance but under adult supervision to avoid ingestion. If done so correctly, handling dry ice is completely safe.