We don’t often think about the process of making wine and the dangers that may present themselves but they are very real. Harmful gases almost always exist when there is a decomposition of organic material. The next time you are casually sipping on a glass (or bottle) of wine at dinner, realize that it was dangerous to get that finished product in front of you!
The most common occurrence of gases happens during fermentation. Fermentation is where grape sugar is metabolized by yeast which causes the sugar to convert to Ethanol and Carbon Dioxide.
Carbon Dioxide is odorless, colorless and tasteless. It lives in the atmosphere at approximately 400 ppm.
OSHA has set a limit of exposure to about 5000 ppm in an 8 hour period and 30,000 ppm in a 10 minute period.
Carbon dioxide can be deadly and has been deadly. Some of the effects of too much Carbon Dioxide are shallow breathing, increased blood pressure/pulse, headache and hearing loss.
The most common place for Carbon Dioxide to be present at a winery would be in and around the tanks and cellars.
While many of us don’t consider the winery business to be dangerous, it is imperative that the safety of the employees working in these areas take the proper precautions. There may be a fixed (wall mounted) unit or portable gas detection (air monitors) being used. All should be properly calibrated as required by the manufacturer and Bump Tested EVERY time the unit is powered up to be used.
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Please bump test – It SAVES LIVES!