It’s been years since life as we know it was altered forever by the emergence of a global pandemic. Information surrounding coronavirus has changed as scientists have continued to study the virus, but research shows that COVID-19 is spread through respiratory droplets.
Scientists have also determined that the public is at a heightened risk for exposure in indoor spaces that are crowded and without proper ventilation. This poses an obvious problem in public spaces that are notorious for poor ventilation, particularly when many occupants are unaware of the air quality within the property.
A variety of ventilation calculators have been created to provide a measurement of air quality. However, they still require data interpretation and technical know-how to utilize.
Why is CO2 important?
CO2 is an essential component of breathing and sustaining life altogether. A human inhales oxygen, but exhales CO2. CO2 levels can rise due to an open flame, but the human body is greatly responsible for elevated CO2 levels indoors.
Exhaled CO2 can travel through the air in the same way that respiratory particles containing the COVID-19 virus do. While a device capable of measuring coronavirus particles has yet to be invented, we do have the ability to measure Carbon Dioxide, which is an indication of air quality as well as the state of ventilation within an area.
High CO2 levels indoors mean the facility has poor ventilation and there are dense concentrations of aerosols in the air, which can include the virus.
What is the relationship between the number of people in a space and CO2 levels?
COVID-19 is airborne, making the virus transmissible through the miniscule droplets exhaled by those around you. A congested indoor space elevates the concentrations of aerosol particles as more people enter a space because more of the limited fresh air within that space is inhaled and exhaled.
The more people breathing in a confined area, the more CO2 and respiratory droplets are exhaled into the atmosphere. Many indoor areas don’t have a proper ventilation system to dilute these particles.
What do CO2 levels mean for your health, in general?
Often confused with deadly Carbon Monoxide, CO2 or Carbon Dioxide, is not harmful in small concentrations. It is commonly known that elevated Carbon Dioxide levels have an effect on respiratory health as well as cognitive function. Still, studies have produced conflicting results on exactly which threshold of CO2 has an impact on human health. In general, CO2 becomes a threat to human health when it begins to displace the oxygen within the room.
Why is ventilation important?
The Environmental Protection Agency estimates that the average American spends 90% of their time indoors, where pollutants are at least 2-5 times higher than outdoors. Although outdoor CO2 concentrations have elevated in recent years largely due to human activities, outdoor air has an almost limitless supply of clean air available to dilute CO2 and respiratory particles.
Indoor spaces don’t have this luxury and require proper ventilation to improve air quality. Ventilation is the process of introducing outside air indoors in an effort to dilute indoor pollutants. To learn more about how proper insulation and ventilation can benefit your home, visit us here.
What should the CO2 levels be?
Concentrations of CO2 indoors vary based upon the size of the space, number of people occupying it, and how well the space is ventilated. CO2 levels between 400-1000 PPM are considered safe indoors. It is believed that exposure to over 5,000 PPM of CO2 for several hours can result in symptoms like headaches, dizziness, and drowsiness. Exposure to 40,000 PPM is immediately dangerous to human life as CO2 replaces oxygen in the blood and can cause asphyxiation. For reference, outdoor CO2 concentrations are typically between 250-350 PPM.
CO2 is a naturally occurring gas that all human beings emit, so concentration levels can be an indicator of the quality of ventilation in a space. Since COVID-19 travels through the air like CO2, proper ventilation can reduce risk of exposure to the virus.
Minnick’s in Laurel, MD proudly serves the Central Maryland area. If you’re interested in assessing the indoor air quality and ventilation in your home, schedule an appointment with us here!
Want to know more? Check out our website to learn more about indoor air quality.
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