Gas Detection Best Practices: Guide for Cannabis Cultivation and Extraction Safety with Macurco
Guide for Cannabis Cultivation and Extraction Safety with Macurco
Driven by deregulation, acceptance, and societal demands, the cannabis industry has seen a meteoric rise. Legalization for both medical and recreational purposes has ushered in a wave of controlled environment grow and extraction facilities, often housed in repurposed warehouses or new constructions. Such rapid expansion, however, brings with it pertinent concerns surrounding worker safety and regulatory compliance. Recent times have witnessed a surge in worker accidents within this industry, prompting Local Building and Fire Code officials to introduce more stringent safety requirements.
This guide delves deep into the gas detection best practices within the cannabis industry. It offers actionable insights for engineers, contractors, and facility managers to ensure safety and compliance.
The Dual Nature of Modern Cannabis Facilities
Many modern cannabis facilities combine grow rooms and extraction rooms. These dual-purpose facilities, in addition to standard safety requirements, necessitate additional measures due to the combined risks involved.
Gases in the Environment
Carbon Dioxide (CO2)
CO2 plays a pivotal role in the cultivation of cannabis and industrial hemp. Its enrichment properties aid in accelerating plant growth and development. However, CO2 is also an asphyxiant, capable of diminishing or replacing atmospheric oxygen.
Storage & Production: CO2 is stored in vacuum-jacketed cryogenic liquid cylinders or as liquefied compressed gas in steel or aluminum cylinders. It can also be generated on-site using Carbon Dioxide generators. Notably, generators that employ fossil fuel combustion can produce Carbon Monoxide (CO) and Nitrogen Dioxide (NO2) – both toxic gases harmful to humans.
Extraction processes may involve hazardous or combustible gases. If these gases are accidentally released, they can pose immediate threats to individuals and property. Therefore, proper ventilation in compliance with International Fire and Mechanical Codes is essential.
BD Concentrate Production: One of the most common methods involves solvent-based concentrate, where gas is passed through a solvent extraction device containing cannabis plant matter. Solvents can include Butane (C4H10), Propane (C3H8), Hexane (C6H14), and Ethanol (C2H6O). Hypercritical CO2 is also gaining traction, introducing additional asphyxiation risks.
Gas Detection and Control with Macurco Equipment
Macurco’s state-of-the-art gas detection equipment serves as a front-line defense against potential gas hazards. Upon detection, these systems provide immediate visual and audible alarms. They can control other equipment, such as ventilation systems, and enforce mechanical interlocks that halt gas flow. This multi-pronged approach ensures gas concentrations remain below hazardous levels.
Safety guidelines like the Lower Explosive Limit (LEL) and Upper Explosive Limit (UEL) define the concentration boundaries for combustible gases. The range between LEL and UEL denotes the flammable range. Gas density also influences detector mounting height, e.g., Methane and Hydrogen are lighter than air, whereas Propane, Butane, Hexane, and Ethanol are heavier.
Applications in Cannabis Facilities
Typically, grow rooms are not electrically classified, allowing general-purpose equipment for CO2 level monitoring. Systems are structured to activate exhaust mechanisms when CO2 levels marginally exceed safety thresholds, and alarms are triggered as concentrations approach critical levels.
Extraction rooms come with a heightened risk due to the continuous presence of combustible gases. They are usually classified as either Class 1 Division 1 or Class 1 Division 2 based on the setup and extraction process. Macurco’s system in these rooms is designed for tiered responses, engaging at multiple alarm setpoints (like 10% LEL, 20% LEL, and 30% LEL). Such nuanced responses ensure that gases never reach explosive concentrations.
Key Macurco Products for Gas Detection Prevention and Safety Measures
- Usage: The GD-Series detectors are designed to detect various gases, including Carbon Dioxide (CO2), which is crucial for cannabis cultivation environments. They are well-suited for greenhouses and grow rooms.
- Safety Measures: These detectors provide both visual and audible alarms if gas concentrations exceed safe levels. The alarm thresholds are adjustable, ensuring appropriate levels for the given environment. Integration with ventilation systems can be achieved, enabling automatic activation of exhaust fans or other mechanisms to regulate gas concentrations.
- Usage: The CM-E1 is a Carbon Monoxide (CO) detector. While CO is not directly associated with cannabis cultivation, the importance of monitoring CO arises when carbon dioxide generators that employ fossil fuel combustion are used, as they can produce carbon monoxide.
- Safety Measures: The device continuously monitors the environment and sounds an alarm if CO levels exceed safety limits. It can be integrated with exhaust systems to vent out the harmful gas and can also alert local monitoring stations if connected.
- Usage: The DVP-Series is a range of gas detection and ventilation control panels. These panels can monitor multiple gases simultaneously and are especially suitable for larger cultivation or extraction facilities.
- Safety Measures: The panels integrate gas detection with ventilation control, allowing for real-time responses to changing gas levels. If unsafe gas concentrations are detected, the system can automatically activate ventilation mechanisms or shut down certain processes. The integration provides a comprehensive safety approach by not just detecting but also mitigating gas-related risks.
The rapidly evolving cannabis industry, while promising, presents its own set of unique challenges. Ensuring worker safety through best practices in gas detection is paramount. While Macurco’s equipment offers a robust solution, always consult your local Fire Marshall or AHJ to ensure state-specific compliance.
Data and information sourced from Macurco’s official documentation and guidelines. Always consult the latest editions of relevant safety and fire codes, such as the NFPA Fire Code, for the most updated practices.