Carbon dioxide is a colourless, odourless gas, denser than air that occurs naturally in the earth's atmosphere. Often carbon dioxide is called by its chemical name CO2.
Common name: Carbon dioxide, CO2.
Carbon dioxide has many uses, such as a coolant, fire extinguishing gas and preservative. The gas is also used to provide the bubbles in fizzy drinks.
Releases to the environment
Combustion processes produce man made releases of carbon dioxide. It is released to the atmosphere in chimney emissions from power stations, from motor vehicles and other processes where fuels containing carbon are burnt.
Enormous amounts of carbon dioxide are also released into the atmosphere by living organisms breathing it out. This is balanced by a similar quantity of carbon dioxide being absorbed by plants as a result of the photosynthesis.
Impacts on the environment and human health
Carbon dioxide is the main "greenhouse gas". Increasing concentrations of these gases in the atmosphere are thought to be the main cause of global warming. The concentration of carbon dioxide has increased by around 30% over the last 10-12 decades mainly as a result of burning of fossil fuels such as oil. Global warming might cause a raise in temperature on earth, melting of ice at the North and South Poles and have many other consequences. There are no health impacts at normal environmental concentrations as today.
The emissions of carbon dioxide and the other five main greenhouse gases are under the United Nations convention on climate change - the Kyoto Protocol. Furthermore carbon dioxide is on the EU-Commissions EPER list and listed in the PRTR Protocol under the Århus Convention.
CAS NO: 124-38-9.