February 29, 2020

"Three people have died after dry ice was poured into a swimming pool at a party in Moscow on Friday...."

"Dry ice had been dumped in the pool after guests exiting the sauna complained it was too warm.... Several guests who had been in the sauna dived into the water to cool off. Immediately the swimmers started to choke and several lost consciousness.... Dry ice is a solid form of carbon dioxide and if it is released in an area without proper ventilation, it can cause people to inhale dangerous amounts of the gas."

BBC reports.

59 comments:

MadisonMan said...

"dangerous amounts" I think you could probably say "deadly amounts"

gilbar said...

ha! people are funny!
first they complained about a sauna being too hot... now they're Dead!
haha!

rhhardin said...

I'd guess that the deep breath you take before diving into the water was a deep breath of air you normally exhale.

Rob said...

Greenhouse gasses claim three more victims.

Rob said...

Greenhouse gasses claim three more victims.

Tommy Duncan said...

This is a microcosm of the CO2 crisis regarding the world's climate. I'm sure the water level in the pool was rising as the ice in their drinks melted (or something...).

Ann Althouse said...

I don't understand how the deaths happen when there are plenty of people there at a party. Did they all stand back and watch their friends die? Wasn't all that was needed was someone to drag them out of the pool and into normal air, maybe with a little CPR? I can see not liking to enter the space, but you could hold your breath and get through it. It's not as though it was poison gas.

Fernandistein said...

The victims were connected to Instagram influencer

No harm, no foul.

JPS said...

"A member of the emergency services told Ria news agency that the partygoers had ordered 25kg of dry ice to cool down the pool at the Devyaty Val (Ninth Wave) complex."

25 kilograms. That's upwards of 13,000 liters of CO2 after it vaporizes.

I'm sorry for the families of those who died pointlessly and very avoidably, and for the Instagram influencer who was celebrating her 29th birthday and is reported to be widowed now.

President Toilet Paper Shoe's Cooked-Up Drug Deal said...

It's not as though it was poison gas.

Well if it killed them apparently it was.

The reach of the AGW denialists is great. Yes, it takes more to kill than some substances, less than others. But the whole reason we have lungs in the first place is to take in oxygen and expel CO2. For a reason. It's like saying other eliminated wastes aren't toxic. It depends how much of them you keep around.

daskol said...

Dry ice + Russian quantities of vodka means finding novel ways to die.

MadisonMan said...

It's not as though it was poison gas.

Given that it killed people, I'll disagree. The physical response would be akin to feeling like you've been holding your breath, I think. Performing CPR is not going to help if you're still breathing in mostly CO2. Especially since CO2 is a heavier gas than O2. If you're on the ground, where you would be if someone is performing CPR on you, that's where CO2 concentrations would be largest.

JPS said...

Prof. Althouse,

"I don't understand how the deaths happen when there are plenty of people there at a party. Did they all stand back and watch their friends die? Wasn't all that was needed was someone to drag them out of the pool and into normal air, maybe with a little CPR?"

I don't quite get it either, but consider:

You dump a whole box of dry ice into hot water under 100% humid air, you're going to have one heck of a thick cloud of fog. Anyone outside isn't going to be watching anything inside / under it, which the victims probably were. If someone slipped under the water it would be easy not to see them unless you knew they were there.

Couldn't they hear, I wonder? Then the question is, how boisterous a party was it? How much yelling (and drinking) was going on? For all we know from this article, people did do exactly as you (and I) think they should have, but couldn't get everyone out in time.

mockturtle said...

Hold my Stoli and watch this!

Paco Wové said...

Natural analogue:

Lake Nyos

tcrosse said...

It's not uncommon for would-be rescuers to succumb.

Paco Wové said...

An Internet analogue would be when a blog's comment threads become saturated with trolls and morons, and intelligent thought expires.

Mark said...

The Apollo 13 crew was almost killed by carbon dioxide poisoning -- and that just from their own exhaling. It wasn't until they improvised filters to scrub the air that they were safe.

Hari said...

How does the hotel staff not know that it is a bad idea to dump dry ice into warm water? Why do they have that much dry ice lying around, and why don't they know how and where to handle it?

JPS said...

President [used to be Pee-Pee Tape]:

"The reach of the AGW denialists is great."

I'm going to hope that's dry humor. They do deny that 400 ppm CO2 is causing a climate emergency, but I haven't come across one yet who denies that 40,000 ppm is dangerous to life and health.

In chemistry talks I am guilty of referring to CO2 as nontoxic, trusting my audience to get that I'm not referring to concentrations over several percent.

Mark, re Apollo 13: I was thinking of that too. That was an amazing story, the improvisation that went into rigging fresh scrubbers.

Mark said...

Even just driving on the highway for long periods it's good to roll down the windows once in a while.

JaimeRoberto said...

It's the dose that makes the poison.

Eleanor said...

If you want to classify carbon dioxide as a toxic poison because in large quantities it can kill you, then water is a toxin, too.

JAORE said...

Another victory in the war on global warming <removes tongue from cheek).

Ann Althouse said...

"The reach of the AGW denialists is great. Yes, it takes more to kill than some substances, less than others. But the whole reason we have lungs in the first place is to take in oxygen and expel CO2. For a reason. It's like saying other eliminated wastes aren't toxic. It depends how much of them you keep around."

In your definition, is water toxic? It's harder to get water out of your lungs than gas. All that was needed was to get the next breath of normal air. The CO2 wasn't damaging the lungs, only filling the lungs.

But I'm not going to get in big discussion of the meaning of the word "toxic."

But I admit there's an interesting connection to the issue within the global warming problem of calling CO2 a "pollutant" within the meaning of the Clean Air Act.

stlcdr said...

AA is correct: CO2 is not a poisonous gas in any shape or form (no pun intended). These people were described as choking. This is also incorrect reporting (although witnessing someone who has been exposed to deadly levels of CO2 concentration can lead one to believe they are choking).

This is (likely) different from the 'apollo' CO2 concentration build up, which was slow. This was likely a rapid displacement of oxygen issue: CO2 is heavier than air, placed in a swimming pool, as it evaporates it will float above the water. As the swimmers attempt to breathe, they are breathing copious amounts of CO2 directly.

CO2 is commonly used in fire fighting equipment (trade name Cardox) because of its ability to displace the oxidizer: i.e. oxygen. Again, it is also non-toxic, and dissipates relatively slowly, heavier than air, so can settle over a fire. Forced air ventilation is required in confined spaces.

The swimming pool edges confined the CO2 to the surface of the pool, exactly where the swimmers heads were. Effectively, they were drowning.

robother said...

I had a group of hard partiers as friends in college and after. But over time, I realized that between the drugs and alcohol, these folks couldn't care less about each other (or more importantly, me). Someone dying a stupid death became just another "wow, man" experience to share. Bad Company.

Levi Starks said...

Co2 is heavier than air, and formed “solid” layer on the surface of the pool.
If your mouth and nose were just above the surface you would be breathing nearly 100% co2.
Co2 is not an inert gas, neither is it poison in the strict sense.
It does however not support life. Unless you’re a plant.
Next time they should liquid nitrogen. They’ll still die, but it’ll be far more pleasant.

Levi Starks said...

Actually as I thought more about this post, I realized it was Ann giving her readers an opportunity to mansplain. Which of course we love to do. You’re welcome.

JAORE said...

Speculation on how it happened.

Carbon dioxide is heavier than "air". So the concentration would be at and a bit above the pool water. Those that dove in likely gasped a lungful as they were about to hit the water. They came to the surface to breathe, but their heads were likely still in the area of concentrated CO2.

FWIW, MOST of the air we breath is nitrogen. But try breathing 100% nitrogen.

Char Char Binks said...
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William said...

I wonder if she'll lose followers. Besides the people who died, of course. Perhaps she can stage a really stylish funeral for her husband. Maybe a selfie with her clutching a black lily....This could be a great teaching moment and could help her add followers. What with this coronavirus thing, it's useful to learn how to give our loved ones the proper send off and what mourning clothes best shows off the chief mourner's grief and figure.....I'm sure if her husband had lived that this is what he would have wanted for her. His death need not be in vain.

Bill Peschel said...

If it'll help this article from the UK Metro shows them dumping the dry ice into the pool.

It doesn't look like it's a big pool, and the cloud of dry ice would have made it hard to see anyone in trouble.

As for not discussing what is toxic, I will refer you to Paracelsus, who said sola dosis facit venenum. "The dose makes the poison" which is a foundation principle in the science of toxicology.

Drink too much water, and you die. Take too much strychnine and you die. But if you take only a little, it stimulates your nerves like caffeine (which it chemically resembles). In fact, as late as the 1940s, you could buy a tonic made from strychnine. It was advertised in Life magazine.



Greg Hlatky said...

I can see not liking to enter the space, but you could hold your breath and get through it. It's not as though it was poison gas.

A lot of confined-space asphyxiations are doubled by would-be rescuers without breathing air.

Phidippus said...

As daskol suggested, they should have seen this coming (but they were too drunk), and they could have rescued those in distress (but they were drunk), so people died unnecessarily. Because they were drunk.

I am reminded of the incident a few years back of the Russian (Ukrainian?) guy who got killed by a beaver. He wasn't pretending to be a tree-- he was crawling around on the ground next to it, annoying it, trying to make a video with his cell phone. The beaver was not amused.

It seems safe to assume that he was on his second bottle of vodka by then.

They have a real problem with that, over there.

Mark said...

CO2 . . .dissipates relatively slowly, heavier than air, so can settle over a fire. Forced air ventilation is required in confined spaces

That would suggest that with breathing in pure carbon dioxide, even when they pull them out, the carbon dioxide has settled deep in the lungs, such that normal breathing of oxygen would not displace it, requiring instead forced ventilation of the lungs.

Narayanan said...
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Wince said...

DAT, DAT, DA... DAT, DAT... DAT, DA
DAT, DAT, DA...DAT, DA.

Yancey Ward said...

As an organic chemist, I used dry ice every single day- it is used mostly in combination with acetone to create -78 C cold baths for reactions, but we mostly used it for the cold traps on rotary evaporators. When you fill your bucket from the dry ice box, you can quickly get light headed if you breathe in the vapors in the box during the 20-30 seconds it can take you to fill your bucket.

loudogblog said...

Carbon dioxide is used a lot in the theater for low lying fog efects. It's classified as an asphyxiant in the SDS. (formerly called an MSDS.) We have to be very careful to use it in well ventilated areas and only for short periods of time. Dry ice pellets are combined with hot water to generate a low lying fog effect in the classic dry ice fogger. Another use is to use liquified CO2 to cool down the theatrical fog from the traditional polypropylene glycol fog machines. If you do a google search for "dry ice fog machine" you'll see that they're commercially available. It's also heavier than air, so it's not a good idea to put it in a pool because it will displace the air and the walls of the pool will hold it in right above the water level.

Narayanan said...

The Federal Aviation Administration in the US allows airline passengers to carry up to 2.5 kg (5.5 lb) per person either as checked baggage or carry-on baggage, when used to refrigerate perishables.[47]

rcocean said...

according to the intertubes, Co2 levels of 12,800 parts per million will result in unconsciousness in 2-3 breaths and death in 3 minutes. 3,200 ppm (0.32%), results in death within 30 minutes.

Yancey Ward said...

As for why they weren't saved- they might not have been able to see the victims- when you dump dry ice into a hot bath of water like that, the still cold CO2 gas and the moisture above the pool will condense into a thick cloud that is inpenetrable to sight.

JPS said...

rcocean,

Those numbers can't be correct for CO2.

40,000 ppm is the level designated Immediately Dangerous to Life or Health (IDLH). If 12,800 ppm could kill you within three minutes, the IDLH would have to be one hell of a lot lower than that. As far as I know, 0.32% won't kill you after any length of time.

You sure you didn't find data for CO?

Char Char Binks said...

It's amazing that some people think hauling unconscious bodies out of a swimming pool while holding one's breath is easy. I'd like to see you try!

Ralph L said...

So is CO2 like CO, in that it prevents the lungs from absorbing O2, or is it just that it displaced the normal air w/ O2 above the pool?

Ralph L said...

If the pool was too warm, why didn't they just run outside in Moscow in February?

Yancey Ward said...

Yes, those are the numbers for CO poisoning, and CO is an actual poison in this case since carbon monoxide is a powerful ligand for hemoglobin.

Ann Althouse said...

I can see how the gas over a pool is a special problem, because you might go underwater as use up your breath and emerge and take a big breath right where the unusable air is.

Another thing here is that this was a party. I imagine that there was alcohol use, and it might be that people weren't physically or mentally strong when it happened.

You can go under water to rescue someone from a pool, so why not go through C02? Just hold your breath, get what you need to do done, and get back out. But if you don't understand the situation or you don't feel strong enough to do that task, you might stand back and watch 3 people die. That's a hell of a thing to do!

Yancey Ward said...

Ralph, in this case, the people simply suffocated because the oxygen at pool level had been displaced- they drowned in CO2 gas to put it bluntly. I was curious about the equilibrium exchange of CO2 bound to hemoglobin vs O2 bound to hemoglobin and have been reading about the exchange the last 20 minutes or so. In the case of CO poisoning, the cause of death is that CO just binds much more tightly to the iron core of hemoglobin than O2 does- as you breath it in, less and less of your hemoglobin is available to transport O2 until the cells in your brain start to die.

I don't think the main cause of death from CO2 exposure is like this- it seems to be the case that your body reacts to the excess levels of CO2 in the air and in your blood (CO2 is much more soluable in water than O2 is) by increasing the respiratory rate, but with chronic exposure to high levels, this just increases the level of CO2 in your body even more- rinse and repeat.

gilbar said...

Ann Althouse said...
I don't understand how the deaths happen when there are plenty of people there at a party. Did they all stand back and watch their friends die?

I Assume, that they ALL had blood alcohol levels of about 37%
This WAS Russia wasn't it?

Xmas said...

1 kg of CO2 gas is about 560 liters of gas, about two bathtubs or one large car trunk in volume. So 25 kg of dry ice becomes an invisible cloud of heavier than air gas over the whole pool area that would very slowly spread out over time. Anyone with their head at water level would immediately suffered fron hypoxia. Anyone approaching the pool slowly would notice the tingling of CO2 gas and loss of oxygen. Anyone rushing towards the pool would probably inhale nothing but CO2 and would immediately succumb to hypoxia.

Xmas said...

For an equivalent experience, with someone watching you, exhale completely then hold your breathe for a few moments. Now imagine that happening by surprise, then realize that every attempt to breathe does nothing to relieve the sensation of no oxygen in your lungs.

A few years ago, some DYI youtuber put a video up on how to make an air conditioner from a 5 gallon bucket with some ice and a shop vacuum's exhaust stream. Some Russian youtuber tried to one up that idea by using dry ice instead of H2O ice. People tried to get YouTube to yank the video because that system would kill people. I think Russians just don't understand what dry ice is.

tcrosse said...

You can go under water to rescue someone from a pool, so why not go through C02? Just hold your breath, get what you need to do done, and get back out.

It's pretty obvious when you're under water that you shouldn't try to inhale. Not so obvious when you're in CO2 gas. That's how would-be rescuers die.

daskol said...

If this were usenet, this thread would be bestowing upon the deceased a well deserved Darwin Award. You can have a combustible mix of substances without an explosion.

Ralph L said...

I wonder if the victims would have lived if the others had thought to raise them up off the pool deck.

Levi Starks said...

Since this thread is still going I will add that the first thing you learn in confined space entry is “don’t become a second victim”
If someone falls unconscious in a confined space that you are monitoring and you immediately enter to rescue them, it’s likely that not only will you not rescue them, but that you’ll also become a victim.

JPS said...

Levi Starks,

"If someone falls unconscious in a confined space that you are monitoring and you immediately enter to rescue them, it’s likely that not only will you not rescue them, but that you’ll also become a victim."

The most horrible example of this was an industrial accident involving gaseous hydrogen fluoride. The guy who was immediately overcome didn't know what hit him - but the guy who held his breath and went in to save him was very, very brave. Was.

Guildofcannonballs said...

This is a link wise to the ways of Bad Company.