Here is what we found in the literature:
Exposure to CO2 can produce a variety of health effects. These may include headaches, dizziness, restlessness, a tingling or pins or needles feeling, difficulty breathing, sweating, tiredness, increased heart rate, elevated blood pressure, coma, asphyxia, and convulsions.
As dry ice melts, it turns into carbon dioxide gas (a process known as “sublimation”) – this is always present in low concentrations in the environment so unless one uses a large amount it may not contribute that extensively to the greenhouse effect. But it all adds up. Dry ice is solid carbon dioxide. It forms at a temperature of -78.5 °C (-109°F). At room temperature, dry ice transitions rapidly from its solid to its gaseous state. However, it can pose a problem when it is released in a small or unventilated space, as it lowers the amount of “normal air” in the area. This in turn creates an oxygen deficient environment which can pose the following health risks to both humans and animals:
- Impaired mental function including thinking, attention span, coordination and emotional upset.
- When oxygen levels become even lower, bodily functions such as heart function and abnormal fatigue are a risk.
As carbon dioxide gas is both colorless and odorless, it cannot be detected unless a specific alarm sensor is in situ – so if dry ice melts in uncontrolled conditions and in an unventilated space, anyone or any animal in the immediate area could be at real risk to their health. If the oxygen in the area reduces to any less than 10%, unconsciousness without warning is a real risk. Once this has happened, the individual may then suffer convulsions and eventually these conditions will be fatal if no help comes. https://www.health.ny.gov/publications/7081/
The levels of CO2 in the air and potential health problems are: (https://www.dhs.wisconsin.gov/chemical/carbondioxide.htm)
- 400 ppm: average outdoor air level.
- 400–1,000 ppm: typical level found in occupied spaces with good air exchange.
- 1,000–2,000 ppm: level associated with complaints of drowsiness and poor air.
- 2,000–5,000 ppm: level associated with headaches, sleepiness, and stagnant, stale, stuffy air. Poor concentration, loss of attention, increased heart rate and slight nausea may also be present.
- 5,000 ppm: this indicates unusual air conditions where high levels of other gases could also be present. Toxicity or oxygen deprivation could occur. This is the permissible exposure limit for daily workplace exposures.
- 40,000 ppm: this level is immediately harmful due to oxygen deprivation.
Did you know a lot of energy goes into making dry ice?
Prolonged exposure to dry ice can cause severe skin damage through frostbite, and the fog produced may also hinder attempts to withdraw from contact in a safe manner. (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dry_ice)
Dry ice: carbon dioxide poisoning is possible (https://www.eurekalert.org/news-releases/674889)