What Are the Dangers of CO2 Gas?

By Ariel Phillips
CO2 image by photlook from Fotolia.com

CO2 gas, otherwise known as Carbon Dioxide gas, is a chemical compound composed of two oxygen atoms and one carbon atom. Carbon dioxide gas is colorless and odorless at low concentrations. CO2 gas is most commonly known as a greenhouse gas that is emitted by cars and other fossil-fuel-burning entities, and that is the primary contributor to rising global temperatures. Aside from the environmental dangers posed by increases in CO2 in the atmosphere, CO2 gas can also be responsible for some health dangers.

Asphyxiation

When carbon dioxide gas is released in a confined or unventilated area, it can lower the concentration of oxygen to a point where it is dangerous for human health. This can cause asphyxiation, which means that it becomes hard to breathe normally and you begin to feel like you are choking.

Stinging sensation

When carbon dioxide gas is inhaled in high concentrations, it can produce a stinging sensation in the nose and throat. This irritation is often accompanied by a sour taste in the mouth. This occurs because the CO2 gas is dissolving in the mucous membranes and saliva and forming a weak solution of carbonic acid.

Loss of energy and concentration

If a person is exposed to high levels of carbon dioxide gas for several hours, they begin to feel tired and get a headache. These symptoms are often accompanied by a difficulty to concentrate. If exposure to high levels of CO2 gas continues, this leads to dizziness and an increased heart rate.

About the Author

Ariel Phillips is an editor and writer living in Portland, Ore. He has written for "n+1 Journal" and "The Rumpus Magazine," among others. He maintains an interest in a variety of subjects, including art, culture, the environment, media, the sciences and sports. He earned bachelor's degrees in art and philosophy from the University of California, Santa Barbara.