UTSA’s Main Building was temporarily closed Feb. 20 due to an abnormally high amount of CO2 present. The gas, which is normally colorless, was added to a solution to make it visible and was released in the building’s sewage pipes to check for leaks, according to Director of Emergency Handling, Lorenzo Sanchez. The gas, which looked like smoke, was primarily seen in a third floor restroom and prompted someone to pull a fire alarm.
According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s website (OSHA), “carbon dioxide is an asphyxiant in humans.” In other words a person’s blood would unable to carry sufficient amounts of oxygen if too much CO2 is inhaled.
Sanchez said the gas was removed from the building by turning the air handling system in reverse to push the air out of the Main Building. It was closed for approximately three hours, and classes resumed as scheduled by 3:30 p.m.