CO2 Monitoring, COVID-19, and Indoor Air Transmission
The beginning of cold and flu season is always a signal of conversations surrounding indoor air quality. Like clockwork, each winter, advertisements start to appear about tissues, humidifiers, and the pills, sprays, and medications that can help prevent or heal your symptoms.
Over the past few years, air quality has too become the norm to see advertised, as the COVID-19 pandemic heightened the awareness of indoor air contaminants following significant research on how to better understand how COVID was released, traveled, and “hung” in closed indoor spaces.
From studies such as the dispersion patterns of exhaled breath, to the viability of masks and filters to prevent the spread of the virus, research continues to be released to better inform health officials and the public as to the true nature and effects of the virus in the air.
The Centers of Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) discussed primarily that the principal mode by which people are infected with the virus is through exposure to respiratory droplets carrying the infectious virus. To provide further perspective, respiratory droplets are created through exhalation such as breathing, speaking, coughing, sneezing, or singing and can also cover a wide range of droplet sizes based on how long they can remain held in the air.
How to Monitor Indoor Air Quality (IAQ)?
Almost every study has concluded that the best indicator of the potential for virus transmission indoors (home, office, or school) is the carbon dioxide (CO2) concentration. While lower CO2 concentrations indicate that enough fresh air is being brought in from outside the building, higher CO2 concentrations indicate the lack of fresh air being brought in from outside the building.
While some may argue that they can simply ventilate the indoor space and outside air is typically always better than inside air; that is not always the case. When you bring in outside air, not only can this improve the indoor air, but you also can invite allergens, debris, humidity, and smog into your home.
Thus, having an indoor air quality CO2 monitor is critical and it is a simple, cost effective, and ideal solution.
By understanding that CO2 levels are a vital part of improving Indoor Air Quality (IAQ) individuals can dramatically influence a more positive lifestyle and well-being. Poor Indoor Air Quality can also lead to reduced cognitive abilities, respiratory ailments like asthma and allergies, an increased rate of simple viruses like the flu and common cold, and the spread of severe viruses like COVID-19.
By monitoring CO2 levels throughout indoor spaces individuals can get a direct indication of the carbon dioxide, relative humidity, particulate matter or temperature measurements further preventing airborne illness from being transported as well as creating a healthier indoor environment.
One positive note from the past year is the dramatic increase in education and information about indoor air quality. The topic has always been important, and it will always be a concern even after the pandemic. Without easy to use monitoring solutions, harmful gases or particles will continue to infiltrate the air. By utilizing devices such as air quality monitors, you can have peace of mind and reduce exposure to potential pathogens that can cause long-lasting negative health effects.
Which Indoor Air Quality device is right for me?
While indoor air quality devices are designed to provide fast, accurate, and simple measurements of the attributes of the air - they vary in terms of device characteristics.
While they all have the end goal of providing proper concentrations so that consumers, businesses, and public health officials can make intelligent decisions, some include provide added functionalities than others.
For individuals looking for a Fixed/Wall Mount device to be used for a larger indoor space such as a commercial building, assisted living center, office space, or gymnasium we recommend the CO2, Temp, and RH Indoor Air Quality Monitor. This device is designed to be installed in larger indoor air environments, provides a digital readout, and also meets LEED certifications.
If you are in search for an easy to use, plug and play portable or desktop device that will improve air filtration, control CO2 levels and create a healthier living space - the Aranet-4HOME is for you. This device is a popular, modern, wireless design that measures CO2, temperature, relative humidity, and barometric pressure.
Typically, most IAQ devices will provide measurements for carbon dioxide (CO2), temperature, and relative humidity; however, if you looking for further monitoring there are devices which will also monitor particulate matter (dust, mold, pollen, etc.).
As you see, device characteristics vary as they may be battery powered or plugged in, may log data, or transmit the data wirelessly, and may activate your ventilation or HVAC system. For further information do not hesitate to ask a CO2 specialist, here.
California State-Level Indoor Air Quality Program
This year, the state of California established a state-wide regulation intended to meet energy, sustainability, and improve indoor air quality (IAQ) standards throughout public school systems.
This regulation applies to all existing classrooms, projects for the construction of new classrooms, and alteration or modernization of existing classrooms. Of these amendments, the Division of the State Architect (DSA) directed that all classrooms, including existing classrooms, must be equipped with a carbon dioxide (CO2) monitor as a mechanism for providing and maintaining proper ventilation and indoor air quality (IAQ).
Requirements of CO2 Monitors
Plans submitted to DSA for the construction of new classrooms, and alteration or modernization of existing classrooms must include a carbon dioxide (CO2) monitoring device meeting the following requirements:
- The monitor is hard-wired or plugged-in and mounted to the wall between three and six feet above the floor and at least five feet away from the door and operable windows.
- The monitor displays the CO2 readings to the teacher through a display on the device or other means such as a web-based applications or cellular phone application.
- The monitor provides a notification through a visual indicator on the monitor, such as an indicator light, or other alert system, such as an electronic mail, text, or cellular telephone application, when the carbon dioxide levels in the classroom have exceeded 1,100ppm.
- The monitor maintains a record of previous data that includes at least the maximum carbon dioxide concentration measured.
- The monitor has a range of 400ppm to 2000ppm or greater.
- (a) The monitor is certified by the manufacturer to be accurate within 75ppm at 1,000ppm carbon dioxide concentration and is certified by the manufacturer to require calibration no more frequently than once every five years.
- (b) If a classroom CO2 concentration exceeds 1,100ppm more than once a week as observed by the teacher or the facilities staff, the classroom ventilation rates shall be adjusted by qualified personnel toe ensure peak carbon dioxide concentrations in the classroom remain below the maximum allowable CO2 ppm setpoint. Verification of the installation of carbon dioxide monitors in all classrooms shall be included in the assessment report required pursuant to Section 1626.
- (c) The requirements of paragraphs (1) to (6), inclusive of subdivision.
Fortunately, CO2Meter has long been recognized as a leading source for CO2 monitoring and indoor air quality solutions, providing customers such as those in the state of California, with the roper CO2 monitors that will not only meet this standard but also mitigate the COVID-19 virus and ensure a healthier indoor space for classrooms.
Most consumers and business owners need simple, low cost, easy to use devices – just something to tell them if their home, school, business, or office is getting enough fresh air. Whether you see those values on a large display or on your phone with the Aranet4 HOME, having the information is a powerful tool in keeping yourself, family, employees, and customers as safe as possible.
Recommended CO2 IAQ Monitor Coverage Areas
The two most frequent questions we get asked about IAQ are: what are safe levels, and how many sensors do I need?
For more than a dozen years that standard thinking about safe indoor CO2 levels has been “anything below 800 is good”. That threshold is not a randomly selected number, however.
Years of research from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), the National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating, Air Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE), the United States Green Building Council (USGBC), and other groups have determined that CO2 levels indoors below 800 ppm are an indicator of good indoor air quality.
Whether that air quality level is achieved through opening fresh air dampers on your HVAC system or by creating cross ventilation through opening doors and windows, the important factor is the continuous and measured low CO2 concentrations.
The average indoor air quality device will cover approximately 1,500 square feet (length X width of the floor space). Be mindful that the calculation assumes a completely open floor plan however – think of a garage or a warehouse.
The actual coverage area for sensors depends on several factors, primarily, how many enclosed spaces you have.
Schools have dozens of individual or enclosed spaces because the classrooms are all separated. Modern offices often have open floor plans except for executive offices. Local breweries may have open concepts too that include brewery or tasting rooms. And modern homes often have open floor plans but enclosed office and bedroom spaces.
As more and more businesses work towards reopening and improving indoor air quality the use of carbon dioxide monitors will continue to provide an essential solution across the globe. The trend is catching on fast throughout not only the united States but from a global reach as well in terms of research and continued standards being created for industries such as restaurants, universities, corporate offices, commercial businesses, and gymnasiums.
Being able to ensure a healthier lifestyle and reduce the transmission of airborne illnesses, is quite simply, a must in todays society.
Knowing how "safe" your space is can be an incredibly powerful tool and CO2 monitors are the best resource for that information. This way, you can ensure peace of mind when indoors and have some insight into ventilation, which is really difficult to figure out – otherwise.