What is CO2 and what is its origin
CO2 is a colorless, odorless gas that cannot be perceived by our senses and is present in the air we breathe every day.
Carbon dioxide is formed due to multiple factors including combustion related to heating and the natural breathing process of humans and all animal beings.
Because of this, it tends to increase and exceed WHO recommended levels in indoor environments where more people are present.
According to a World Health Organization estimate, regardless of the pandemic from Covid 19, 23 percent of deaths worldwide are related to being in unhealthy environments.
When the CO2 value exceeds the threshold allowed by the WHO
The European standard EN ISO 16000-1 supports the search for effective solutions to the problem of air pollution. In fact, it aims to help the planning of pollution monitoring in confined environments.
Carbon dioxide plays a key role in indoor pollution: it is a good general indicator of air quality since its level increases proportionally to all other pollutants.
Excess CO2 must be eliminated, and this is normally done through breathing: with each respiratory act, the pulmonary alveoli draw oxygen from the air into the blood and return excess carbon dioxide to the air. When respiratory function is impaired by a state of lung disease, the lungs are unable to eliminate all the carbon dioxide they should be leaking out.
In this case it is called respiratory failure.
The severity of symptoms that result from excess CO2 depends on how much CO2 rises in the blood and the type of chronic disease the person in question suffers from.
Generally, small concentrations of CO2 in the blood do not result in any health damage because there is a gradual adaptation of the body to this condition.
Problems arise when CO2 levels are very high, and symptoms that may occur include feeling lightheaded, fatigue, headache, inadequate reaction to stimuli to severe respiratory problems.
CO2 and Covid19
Extremely high CO2 levels promote the spread of viruses.
Recently there has been growing evidence that the SARS-CoV-2 virus can be easily transmitted from aerosols exhaled by an infected person with particles detected in the air even several hours later.
CO2 monitoring in schools could be of great help with respect to controlling infection in shared confined environments: equipping classrooms with carbon dioxide sensors could provide an early indication of how saturated the air is in indoor environments.
Schools are the first place where work needs to be done to calculate CO2 emissions, monitor air quality, and assess potential risks to protect students’ childhood and comfort.
Systematic introduction of dedicated sensors turns out to be the safest solution on how to reduce CO2 to ensure good air quality.
The installation of such instruments would raise awareness about this approach and facilitate its wider use in other areas as well, such as in restaurants, hotels, municipal libraries, nursing homes, gyms, municipal swimming pools, sports arenas, and so on.
Airing out the environment is not the solution
We have always thought that opening windows was a good habit, in reality it is not exactly the right thing to do to make sure we are breathing healthy air.
When we open the windows, our intent is to let the polluted air out to replace it with the “new” air from outside. But what could happen is the entry of harmful particles that, joining with the indoor air, form a risky agglomerate for the occupants who breathe it.
In addition, if we open windows too often, we have to deal with moisture that could create mold spores and energy expenditure.
Remedies to prevent and counteract the problem
Constantly measuring the concentration of CO2 in the air can bring you and the people around you (family members in the home or colleagues in the office) not a few benefits including higher quality of the air you breathe, thus better health and well-being, savings in energy consumption (avoiding heat loss in the winter and air conditioning in the summer), and the ability to control other factors that are critical to the quality of the air you breathe (such as humidity).