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Old 03-28-2009, 05:45 PM   #1
Acumen
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Default CO2 from fermenters - possible health effects?

Because it has been the tail end of winter, I still had plastic over all my windows for heat conservation.

Since about 2 weeks ago (when my first batch went into the fermentor) when I work out I have been getting extremely painful headaches. Google said that it could be from incorrect breathing, but I had not changed my routine at all, I had even lowered the weight I am lifting. It took me a while to put two and two together, but I realized finally that I have filled my entire basement (where I have my gym machine) with C02 and had little to no ventilation.

Has anyone had similar issues?

I just ripped all the plastic off my windows and am attempting to purge out the CO2, hopefully the headaches will go away...

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Old 03-28-2009, 07:33 PM   #2
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I'd say if you're worried about headaches from homebrewing, drink more water before you go to bed and take an aspirin.

Carbon monoxide (CO) will cause headaches and all kinds of other problems (up to and including death). It is formed by incomplete combustion (like a charcoal grill or poorly-operating furnace). You can get CO monitors at any hardware or home improvement store.

Carbon dioxide (CO2) is produced by complete combustion or metabolism (aerobic, like you and I are engaged in) or anaerobic (which your yeast are doing to create alcohol). You can be suffocated by CO2 only if it displaces all the oxygen in the room (like if you stuck your head in a cooler that had a block of dry ice slowly vaporizing).

I strongly disbelieve that you could make enough CO2 from home-scale brewing to lower the oxygen in you basement enough to be a problem. According to wikipedia 1% in air is enough to make you drowsy, and 7-10% will cause headaches and more severe conditions.

Assuming you convert 100% of the carbon in your malt to CO2 (which is patently untrue, considering the yeast are producing alcohol), you get 1.4 lb of CO2 per lb of malt. A standard 5-gal batch with 6 lb of DME would make 8.8 lb of CO2 (and consume 6.6 lb of O2). In my basement, this would only raise the CO2 level to 1% (not 7%) if it was all consumed at once. In practice, the only way I could accomplish both of these would be to *burn* malt or DME.

Most houses leak enough to avoid buildup of CO/CO2 unless you have some really poorly-operating combustion sources. CO is a bigger danger because it takes less of it to poison you.

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Old 03-28-2009, 08:56 PM   #3
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Assume you have 1 5g batch of beer that started at an OG of 1.050, and fermented down to 1.012
5g is 19 liters, so you will lose 19 * (1.050 - 1.012) kg of weight which will be mostly CO2
19 * .038 which is approximately 3/4 Kg.
The density of CO2 is roughly 2 kg per cubic meter, so you will have generated about 3/8 cubic meter (or 13 cubic feet).
My (full) basement is about 8000 cubic feet, so that would give me less than 0.2% additional CO2, but it will build up a bit in a basement because of poor ventilation and the fact that it is heavier than air.

-a.

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Old 03-28-2009, 11:18 PM   #4
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I highly doubt it's the co2. Consider that plenty of people on this board have leaked entire 5 or 20 pound co2 bottles in enclosed areas and have lived to post about it.

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Old 03-29-2009, 05:14 AM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Scotty_g View Post
You can be suffocated by CO2 only if it displaces all the oxygen in the room (like if you stuck your head in a cooler that had a block of dry ice slowly vaporizing).
While I agree it doesn't seem likely that this is caused by the CO2 from the fermentation, it is worth mentioning that CO2 itself is poisonous and displacement of O2 is not the only problem. You should watch Apollo 13 again.
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Old 03-29-2009, 05:45 AM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by taylornate View Post
While I agree it doesn't seem likely that this is caused by the CO2 from the fermentation, it is worth mentioning that CO2 itself is poisonous and displacement of O2 is not the only problem. You should watch Apollo 13 again.
Co2 is not really poisonous and in a normal setting oxygen displacement IS the only problem. While you can get CO2 poisoning if you inhale FAR FAR too much to say its poisonous suggests there will be adverse health effects even in low doses which is untrue.

Toxicity of Carbon Dioxide CO2 Gas Exposure, poisoning symptoms, exposure limits, and Links to Toxic Gas Testing Procedures C02 Gas toxicity CO2 exposure limits

Further reading
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Old 03-29-2009, 05:57 AM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Acumen View Post
Because it has been the tail end of winter, I still had plastic over all my windows for heat conservation.

Since about 2 weeks ago (when my first batch went into the fermentor) when I work out I have been getting extremely painful headaches. Google said that it could be from incorrect breathing, but I had not changed my routine at all, I had even lowered the weight I am lifting. It took me a while to put two and two together, but I realized finally that I have filled my entire basement (where I have my gym machine) with C02 and had little to no ventilation.

Has anyone had similar issues?

I just ripped all the plastic off my windows and am attempting to purge out the CO2, hopefully the headaches will go away...
I hope not, I stick my nose over my airlock and take a drag or two every day to get a whif of that sweet stuff!
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Old 03-29-2009, 06:03 AM   #8
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Quote:
You should watch Apollo 13 again.
LOL, trust Hollyweird...for what? Whom to vote for? NO...the very air you breath!!!
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Old 03-29-2009, 06:09 AM   #9
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its not the beer, not enough there, only one fermentor and create enough CO2 to stick around and over come you. Its your home , poor ventilation, check your furnace, or combustible equipment (car, motorts) or its you, get checked out by your primary doc. Head aches are simple as high sodium diets, not enough water, low potassium diet, vitamin and electrolytes are lacking etc. Migraine, are a combination of many things, but you said your not vomiting or having blurred vision...well if anything here is some useful info, and since im in Physician Assistant School I will bore you with it now...

Carbon being a gas when inhaled at a unhealthy level can produce a sour taste in the mouth and a stinging feeling in the nose and throat. When combined with the mucous it creates carbonic acid. Any prolonged exposure to moderate levels of CO2 can cause acidosis, this being said, acidosis toxicity in 5 steps.

1. drowsiness
2. increased blood pressure, pulse
3. dizziness, confusion and difficulty breathing, headache and SOB(shortness of breath)
4. Headache, sweating, vision changes, tremor, loss of consciousness.
5. Death.

I hope your not reaching step 3, but then again your able to write on HBT!

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Old 03-29-2009, 06:56 AM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tndave View Post
LOL, trust Hollyweird...for what? Whom to vote for? NO...the very air you breath!!!
Believe it or not there really was a NASA mission named Apollo 13 and they really did need to remove poisonous CO2 from their spacecraft.
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