What is it?

Carbon Dioxide (CO2) is a colorless, odorless, non-flammable gas primarily produced by people through exhalation and activities such as burning fossil fuels when cooking (coal, oil and natural gas).

Why do we need to monitor CO2 levels at home?

In indoor spaces, CO2 is generally acknowledged as an important indicator of air quality because it determines whether fresh air is being supplied in the environment. CO2 can be naturally diluted in ambient air. However, this is not the case in modern residential spaces like apartments and condominiums, where insufficient ventilation results in high levels of CO2 that are potentially dangerous.

A number of factors affect the speed and level of CO2 level changes, such as the number of people in the room and the length of time they are there, the amount of energy used, the type and size of the room, and more. In small enclosed spaces such as your living room and dining room, you can expect high CO2 levels when a large group is present. The level of carbon dioxide will be different for every room and can change in a matter of minutes. Because it cannot be detected by our senses, it can easily increase to harmful levels without real-time monitoring.

High levels of carbon dioxide in the air displaces oxygen. With less oxygen available for breathing, a variety of symptoms may be experienced.

  • 350-1,000 ppm : typical level found in occupied spaces with good air exchange
  • 1,000-2,000 ppm : level associated with complaints of drowsiness and poor air
  • 2,000-5,000 ppm : level associated with headaches, sleepiness, and stagnant, stale, stuffy air; poor concentration, loss of attention, increased heart rate and slight nausea may also be present.

What are the benefits of improving carbon dioxide levels inside the home?

Because CO2 is an effective benchmark for good indoor air quality, ensuring optimal levels means that there is sufficient ventilation and air exchange rates in the room. Numerous studies have shown the benefits of proper ventilation on the following:

Improved Health and Well-being

Fatigue, headaches, allergies, and difficulty in breathing can all be caused by exposure to high levels of CO2. Improving CO2 levels along with other indoor air quality factors such as temperature and humidity can alleviate those health issues.

Better Sleep and Productivity

When you wake up with a headache or sleep fitfully during the night, you may be experiencing elevated levels of CO2 and other pollutants in your bedroom. The lack of ventilation can cause CO2 levels to rise, which means less oxygen in the air you breathe. Studies show that reducing your CO2 levels can lead to better sleep quality which impacts your productivity during the day.

When there is sufficient oxygen available for breathing, the brain is able to function more efficiently which means better concentration and decision-making. A number of studies have been published through the years that have successfully quantified the correlation between CO2 concentrations and increased cognitive performance.

Reduction of Survival and Transmission Risk of Coronavirus and other Harmful Viruses

Since coronaviruses can linger in the air and spread, elevated levels of carbon dioxide may impact transmission chances, especially if an infected person is in an enclosed space. Improving CO2 levels by opening doors and windows for ventilation reduces the risk of virus survival and transmission.

What can be done to improve carbon dioxide levels inside the home?

The best way to prevent the accumulation of CO2 in any indoor environment is to increase ventilation and ensure sufficient air exchange.

When possible, open windows to allow natural airflow in the room. Using a demand control ventilation strategy that is based on real-time CO2 measurements can also help to adjust ventilation rates according to the actual carbon dioxide levels present in the air.

To keep CO2 at manageable levels, consider the size of the areas in your house when you invite people for gatherings.

Make sure that your heating, ventilation, and air conditioning devices are properly used and maintained.

How does uHoo help to improve carbon dioxide levels at home?

uHoo can provide reliable real-time measurement of CO2 levels as well as for all the other important things in your air so you can be alerted and take prompt action on the issues. It can also do the following to help you take control:

  • Measure and monitor all the important air quality parameters so you can create a healthier and safer home
  • Provide alerts when something is amiss in your air quality so you can promptly address the specific issue
  • Provide a real-time risk assessment of virus survival and transmission in the air with the uHoo Virus Index
  • Easily integrate with your heating, ventilation, and air cooling systems to manage your indoor air quality

References:

  1. Minnesota Department of Health. Carbon Dioxide (CO2). Updated 13 March 2019.
  2. Carbon Dioxide Detection and Indoor Air Quality Control. OH&S. April 1, 2016.
  3. Allen, Joseph G., Piers MacNaughton, Usha Satish, Suresh Santanam, Jose Vallarino, and John D. Spengler. 2015. “Associations of Cognitive Function Scores with Carbon Dioxide, Ventilation, and Volatile Organic Compound Exposures in Office Workers: A Controlled Exposure Study of Green and Conventional Office Environments.” Environmental Health Perspectives 124 (6): 805-812. doi:10.1289/ehp.1510037.
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