Carbon Dioxide or CO2 is a greenhouse gas that is natural and harmless in small quantities, but as levels rise it can affect productivity and sleep. Most commonly produced indoors by the air we exhale, CO2 levels concentrate indoors with less ventilation.
Carbon dioxide is a gas consisting of one part carbon and two parts oxygen. It is one of the most important gases on the earth because plants use it to produce carbohydrates in a process called photosynthesis. Since humans and animals depend on plants for food, photosynthesis is necessary for the survival of life on earth.
You have probably heard of CO2 emissions in the news regarding global warming. As CO2 builds up in our atmosphere from burning fossil fuels, it has a warming effect that could change the earth’s climate.
Indoor carbon dioxide concentrations are driven by a combination of outdoor CO2, indoor breathing and the ventilation rate of the building. As buildings and homes become more energy-efficient and airtight, this means we have less fresh air.
Many of the ventilation systems we use today recycle air to conserve energy, essentially moving the contaminated air around rather than cycling in new air. This results in high CO2 concentrations and poor indoor air quality.
High levels are directly correlated to low productivity and high sick leave making this a crucial concern in offices, schools and home environments.
Fresh air will help you get a better night’s sleep. Keep your door or window open while you sleep to avoid that “stale” air feeling, which comes from increased levels of CO2.
Studies show that people have a much harder time learning, performing simple and complex tasks, and making decisions, as CO2 levels rise.
Students in a classroom with CO2 levels of 2500 ppm had much worse test scores than at 1000 ppm.
CO2 levels rise and fall regularly indoors. There are many factors that affect CO2 levels including ventilation, amount of people, and length of time in an enclosed space.
Regularly replace air filters in indoor fan systems and install a CO2 monitor to remind you when to refresh your home.
In the past, plants have been said to help with CO2 levels at home, however, this has been debunked. Plants reduce CO2 levels on a global scale through photosynthesis, unfortunately, a high quantity would be needed to make any difference to indoor air quality at home. One benefit, however, is that studies have found that being around nature can help reduce stress and induce calm.