We all have fire alarms in our houses, offices and work places but this is to warn us about a visible and audible danger. Unfortunately there is another deadly hazard around us which we never see or hear. Carbon Dioxide (CO2) The Carbob Dioxide Molecule is made up of two Oxygen atoms and one Carbon atom. [ O = C = O ]
Carbob Dioxide is formed when fuel is burned and also when living organism breathe. Although carbon dioxide is considered a toxic gas it is continuously exchanged in the atmosphere, ocean and earth as it is produced and absorbed. There is a fine balance between this exchange, and human activity contributes considerably towards this exchange.
The most significant danger in the working and home environment is when heating systems are used. The production of waste gasses is the root danger but how the waste gas is directed away from inhabited areas is crucial. The gas installation regulations have direct specifications on how this must be done. Consideration must be made for items such as:
The location of exhaust flumes/pipes
The size of such exhausts
The distance from windows or ventilation openings
Availability for natural ventilation (without air a boiler won't work)
Even if all these requirements are met there are potential situations that could result in Carbon Dioxide entering ocupied areas. Workshops are common areas as well as where heating equipment is used large numbers of people are gathered in a confined area.
The law requires that risk must be assessed, and that it must be done suitably and sufficiently. Considering the control of substances hazardous to health is not just about cans of paint and petrol used by maintenance teams but all substances and their by products when used. Best practise right now with national coverage about the subject is to think about Carbon Dioxide and also other by-products in your operation and include it now in risk assessment reviews to be suitably controlled.
Boarding schools should review all potential sources of Carbon Dioxide and check if the outlet points are suitably and that there is limited potential for the gas to reach boarding accommodation. Regular testing of boiler rooms and boarding room air quality will also demonstrate that suitable air quality is maintained. This will also be relevant to other teaching areas where an increased number of pupils and staff are present for extended hours.
Carbon Dioxide alarms are available for about £10 which is an insignificant amount considering the danger.