Main Benefits of CO2 Monitoring: Why is it That Important?
Carbon dioxide (CO2) is one of the primary gases, high levels of which can lead to negative consequences for human wellbeing. CO2 measurement offers an inexpensive and effective solution to classify the current risks posed by potentially infectious aerosols. Buildings, in particular, generate a great deal of CO2. The level of carbon dioxide is based on the exhaled air of people, so the more people are present in the closed space, the higher the carbon dioxide level will be. People’s daily exhalations can cause a significant amount of carbon dioxide, significantly decreasing indoor air quality. When this happens, people can no longer breathe fresh air and are more susceptible to infection risk.
The presence of carbon dioxide in a building is closely correlated with the number of airborne infections. Now, with the COVID-19 pandemic, it becomes an especially acute problem. When the indoor concentration of carbon dioxide reaches 800 parts per million, then each time you breathe in, one percent of the air you inhale has come from the exhalations of others. During a pandemic, that’s an alarming thought, which calls for a stronger focus to continuously monitor CO2 levels to keep us healthy and to help prevent the spread of COVID-19.
According to the research, levels of carbon dioxide concentrations have been rising dramatically for the last 50 years. Statistics show that now we consider air to be fresh with 420 parts per million (ppm) of CO2 and 21% of oxygen levels, but only 50 years, the norm was not more than 350 ppm. 
The rise at almost 100 points in 50 years is really upsetting and calls for constant monitoring of indoor levels of carbon dioxide.
What CO2 Concentration is considered “Above the Norm?”
Air quality guidelines suggest that indoor CO2 should be less than about 650 ppm. However, considering air pollutants displacing oxygen, recommended levels of CO2 within a closed space should be within the range of 1000-1200 ppm. Nevertheless, according to recent studies, in many classrooms, CO2 would easily exceed 1400 and even go up to 5200 ppm if they are not regularly ventilated. 
Public Health Associations around the world have found long ago that such stagnant air can be a precedent for sick building syndrome, which decreases cognitive function, can provoke headaches and have a negative effect on the overall physical state of a person. 
For you to better understand the real hazard of CO2 levels, there are some alerting facts. As already noted, currently the concentration of CO2 in the open air is around 420 ppm and 30,000 ppm in human exhaled breath. Carbon dioxide can be hazardous to our well-being if we breathe it at high concentrations. For example, carbon dioxide levels above 15,000 ppm could lead to panting. It also dispenses oxygen from our bloodstream and acts as a toxin. A concentration of around 10,000 ppm may lead to unconsciousness and tremor. Carbon dioxide can be harmful to human wellbeing by reducing or toxifying oxygen and other essential substances. Increased levels of CO2 are linked to headaches, reduced performance, absenteeism, and other more serious ailments. Moreover, values above 40,000 ppm may result in death or other severe conditions. These figures and risks connected to high carbon dioxide levels call for installing demand-controlled ventilation systems in indoor public places.
Where Do We Need to Improve Ventilation?
Many studies have shown that the concentration of CO2 in schools is higher than in the average building. Even though CO2 isn’t considered highly dangerous for human beings, prolonged exposure can have negative health effects. The current data shows that usual CO2 levels in the classrooms reach 800 ppm, which means 1% of air is re-used, in a typical classroom with 25 kids. This level is reached within 5-10 min if the space is not ventilated. At the same time, when the learning space with a standard number of 25 students is not ventilated for 15-20 min, then CO2 levels reach 1800 ppm, meaning that approximately 10% of air is re-used. This level already has pretty visible negative effects on a person. According to recent research, at 1800 ppm kids and teachers feel very tired, not attentive, sleepy, and it takes them 2 times longer to learn new concepts as their cognitive functions are reduced by approximately 70-80%4. Such indoor air quality is inappropriate for the normal functioning of a person, so a smart HVAC system connected to an IoT sensor that can monitor indoor air is not a privilege but a necessity.
Data collected in Canada is also quite alarming for children’s safety at educational institutions. The Anglophone North School District in Ontario, Canada, has 29 schools, but only three have fully integrated mechanical ventilation systems. That’s a worrying number for the well-being of children, especially, considering that in many cases just opening a window or door for 20-30 min brings the CO2 to a normal level. CO2 is a heavy gas and tends to “roll out” when the door is open, so it will be enough for the school just to monitor CO2 levels and control the regular inflow of outside air in the room.
The main positive news is that the Department of Education is committed to improving school ventilation and air quality. Additionally, battery-powered CO2 solutions are also available for schools. These devices can be moved to rooms or placed in areas where high CO2 levels are hazardous for safety. Additionally, because the technology is wireless, it can be monitored remotely, so school administrators can be informed of unhealthy peaks in temperature, occupancy, air pollutant levels to create action plans to reduce them. This is a win-win situation for all concerned. So, we don’t need to wait any longer to act on this issue.
Many people are unaware that their workplaces may be at risk of high CO2 levels. In fact, many health experts now suggest that the amount of CO2 in an office building may be up to eight times higher than the safe level calculated for normal occupancy. This gas is a noxious greenhouse gas, which can be dangerous when exposed to high concentrations. So, it is an important part of indoor air quality, and to avoid any risk, it should be monitored regularly.
The problem of high CO2 levels in working environments is well-documented. Businesses all over the world face the problem of poor air quality. Researchers have found that high CO2 levels in office environments may have negative effects on productivity, energy efficiency, and motivation to work. This has been shown through several studies, including a recent one conducted by Oxford Brookes University. The study showed that employees working in offices with low CO2 levels were up to 60% more productive, and test scores increased by 12%. Additionally, if the CO2 levels in an office are kept under 500 ppm (measurements close to outdoor air quality), workers will be more alert and productive.
Businesses have to understand that some people may be sensitive to CO2 and other toxic gases, and these should be addressed immediately. Aside from risks related to workers’ wellbeing, workplaces with high CO2 levels may also pose a significant liability in an event of an emergency. This could lead to death or injury. Moreover, even UK’s chief medical adviser, Professor Chris Whitty, who is a governmental body, outlines the importance of ventilation, and air quality monitoring. Considering the Coronavirus pandemic, it’s really important to control occupancy levels in the indoor space and how it affects employees. Now, when CO2 gas measurements are high, it can be life-threatening.
What are the Benefits of CO2 Monitoring?
Using CO2 monitoring equipment in the office, educational institution, or any other public space is beneficial in many ways. It can help you know the level of carbon dioxide exposure in your environment from other people’s respiratory systems. Detecting the CO2 level allows you to adjust ventilation rates based on the activity, temperature, and occupancy in the room. If the office environment is not very large, one sensor on the wall will be more than enough to provide precise measurements. If you have a large office, it would be best to install several sensors on the different sides of the room to be sure that measurements are precise. Such a system of monitoring indoor levels of CO2 will give you the necessary knowledge for automating ventilation and setting a fixed ventilation strategy, which can even help you save on energy costs.
In addition, CO2 sensors allow you to control individual ventilation equipment, which helps you create a healthier indoor environment while reducing the amount of energy used. When a company or any non-profitable institution has a system that monitors the quality of air and sends alerts when there is a health risk, people will have an opportunity to breathe much fresher air. It also helps you protect yourself and the people around you from other potential health problems connected to inadequate ventilation.
TEKTELIC BREEZE Solution for Carbon Dioxide Levels Monitoring
As you already know, in shared spaces such as classrooms and offices, the risk of airborne infections increases with the high levels of carbon dioxide. TEKTELIC, in turn, offers a solution that makes it is possible to determine indoor CO2 concentrations using a BREEZE-D monitoring tool, which is one of the leading indoor CO2 measuring instruments available. It has an accelerometer, minimal battery consumption, and an easy-to-use user interface. It is compatible with all LoRaWAN gateways and monitors CO2 levels in real-time. The sensor allows to track temperature and humidity levels via a mobile application. It also has a battery life of approximately 5 years, making it suitable for a variety of applications in smart homes, offices, or other public spaces. Moreover, the BREEZE is easy to install, providing long battery life and good wireless performance.
TEKTELIC’s BREEZE solution is an integrated system of an E-ink Display tablet and a BREEZE – one of TEKTELIC’s smart room sensors. The latter measures CO2 levels, humidity, light, temperature, and optional motion with PIR. This solution has multiple calibration options, is highly accurate, and is easily deployable. In addition, its deep indoor coverage makes it ideal for use in a wide range of commercial settings.
So, if you are interested in increasing your productivity, and reducing the consumption of CO2, it’s time to contact the TEKTELIC team and start breathing fresh air. BREEZE better!
1. Lindsey R. (2020). Climate Change: Atmospheric Carbon Dioxide. Climate.gov. Retrieved from https://www.climate.gov/news-features/understanding-climate/climate-change-atmospheric-carbon-dioxide
2. Fisk W. (2017). The Ventilation Problem in Schools. Energy Analysis and Environmental Impacts Division Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory. Hänninen, O., Canha, N., Kulinkina, A., Dume, I., Deliu, A., & Mataj, E. et al. (2017). Analysis of CO2 monitoring data demonstrates poor ventilation rates in Albanian schools during the cold season. Air Quality, Atmosphere & Health, 10(6), 773-782. https://doi.org/10.1007/s11869-017-0469-9 https://indoor.lbl.gov/sites/default/files/pdf.pdf
3. Joshi S. M. (2008). The Sick Building Syndrome. Indian Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine, 12(2), 61–64. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2796751/
4. Hänninen, O., Canha, N., Kulinkina, A., Dume, I., Deliu, A., & Mataj, E. et al. (2017). Analysis of CO2 Monitoring Data Demonstrates Poor Ventilation Rates in Albanian Schools During the Cold Season. Air Quality, Atmosphere & Health, 10(6), 773-782. Retrieved from https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s11869-017-0469-9
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