Monitoring IAQ during COVID-19
Many countries and organizations across the globe have been coming together in the last decade to create standards, enforce monitoring, and further implement the use of CO2 sensors and devices as a means for improving indoor air quality.
CO2 monitoring has become an even greater focus during the pandemic because understanding CO2 levels can help prevent air-borne illnesses like COVID from traveling throughout indoor environments.
To provide some perspective, multiple studies have demonstrated that by using CO2 sensing devices, facilities can gain a clear understanding about their indoor environments and use the CO2 readings as indicators of whether or not the air is being properly refreshed and ventilated. Lower CO2 values in indoor air means that fresh air is being brought into the space thus minimizing the potential for contaminants and the COVID virus from lingering in enclosed spaces. Indoor environments such as homes, offices, classrooms, fitness centers, restaurants, and supermarkets can all be negatively effected by poor indoor air quality.
Poor indoor air quality (IAQ) can lead not only to chronic illnesses, but reduced cognitive abilities, fatigue, lack of focus and dizziness. It also leads to increased infection rates of even simple viruses like the flu and the common cold.
While most know about the impact of dust, mold, mildew, and other particles in the air, oftentimes they are unaware of the impact elevated CO2 levels have on their health too. The global COVID-19 pandemic has raised awareness about the effects of poor indoor air quality to new levels.
While wearing masks is a great first step in preventing the spread of the virus, unavoidably, the virus's airborne transmission means that it can effect others near you too.
The team at CO2Meter has decided to highlight a few applications in which the use of CO2 monitors have been implemented to minimize the spread of the virus and ensure improved indoor air quality for occupants.
CO2 monitoring continues to be an invaluable resource in defining proper CO2 levels for not only residential buildings, but also universities and classrooms. While some domestic colleges and universities have focused on improving indoor air quality, a renewed focus has emerged internationally as well. Many international universities have contacted CO2Meter about acquiring devices to gauge indoor air quality during the pandemic. For example, the University of Castilla-La Mancha in Spain has continued to discuss the importance of CO2 monitoring within its classrooms, offering complete display of the CO2 level data during the school day across multiple CO2 analyzers. Additionally, the UCLM university states, "It is important to distinguish and utilize CO2 monitors with NDIR (Non Dispersive Infrared) technology for our students, as these sensors work far better in terms of accuracy than other devices. Avoid cheaper CO2 detectors which can also measure VOCs as these sensors we have typically seen malfunction".
Similar research has been conducted at the University of Colorado. This particular study focuses on how to control the transmission of airborne infectious diseases indoors, specifically in classrooms, home-schooling, or university settings.
Additional data about the importance of CO2 monitoring in classrooms was shared by Steven Van Gucht, head of the infectious diseases department at the federal knowledge center Sciensano. Van Gucht states, "A CO2 meter primarily measures the CO2 content in a room. It is an indication of what we exhale and how often the air in a room is refreshed. The CO2 meter is mainly a tool for schools that do not have permanent ventilation" he believes, and "occasionally have to open the doors and windows. It indicates whether that ventilation is done sufficiently."
A common CO2 meter for indoor air quality monitoring in colleges and universities, is the Aranet4 Pro Indoor Air Quality Monitor.
Aside from university and classroom applications, when it comes to indoor air monitoring, another emerging application that should be monitoring IAQ more are gymnasiums and fitness centers.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, a main topic of concern has circulated around whether exercising while wearing a mask was bad or if this increased overall resistance to the virus. The World Health Organization (WHO) responded to this concern stating, "We do not advise wearing masks during intense physical activity, because this can reduce the ability to breathe properly during fitness".
In stating this, for those athletes who are hesitant to wear masks during endurance training, many gymnasiums across the nation have turned to ensuring proper CO2 monitoring is in place to quickly indicate CO2 levels and their rise above the normal threshold for good indoor air quality. Clearly, proper ventilation in these exercise areas is critical to the health of athletes and proper training.
For example, Dr. Lindsey Marr who is an avid athlete and expert on ventilation and viral transmission, has also created her own guidelines and emphasizes the requirement for monitoring CO2 levels in gymnasiums with a proper CO2 meter. By properly monitoring these spaces athletes and gymnasium owners can ensure a "double-check" to visually recognize when potentially contaminated air can be exhausted if CO2 levels rise above safe parameters.
Common indoor air quality monitors that are used throughout gymnasiums, fitness centers, and even tanning salons include the TIM10 Desktop CO2, Temp, and Humidity Monitor.
Similar to carbon dioxide (CO2) monitoring to measure proper air filtration in universities and gymnasiums, a sustained trend has emerged involving air quality analysis in the transportation sector.
Proper ventilation has become an important factor for those individuals forced to utilize transportation in urban metropolitan areas areas where subways and buses are the typical means of transport. Now, many of these transportation services and even smaller city buses have begun installing CO2 monitors adhered to their dashboards. By doing so, these transit systems offer passengers a sense of security and ability to open windows, when able, for proper ventilation should CO2 levels exceed the norm.
By understanding the importance of CO2 and air quality for individuals, this also in turn provides education for those passengers who may be unaware of the potential hazards that poor IAQ can play on their overall well-being.
Some end results for providing CO2 monitors is eliminating full capacity of passengers during COVID-19, allowing proper ventilation, and ensuring proper air filtration through grilles, windows, and ceiling entries. An additional international initiative in Spain is set to enforce codes in which monitoring of CO2 levels in all local public transportation channels would be required.
One common indoor air quality CO2 monitor that is used throughout transportation is the IAQMini CO2 Monitor.
Supermarket and Commercial
Spaces with high consumer traffic patterns are also taking note of CO2 levels to keep customers and employees safe during store hours ensuring that highly trafficked areas are also bringing in fresh air.
Areas such as supermarkets, shopping centers, restaurants, and brick and mortar stores are all following suit. By focusing on inspecting, repairing, and increasing air filtration many businesses are deploying and taking more action in ensuring ventilation systems are operating properly and CO2 monitors are in place for proper indication.
Read a further article on the importance of measuring CO2 specifically for HVAC applications, here.
A common indoor air quality monitor for commercial and supermarket applications is the WiFi indoor air quality monitor.
Increase Outdoor Air Intake in Buildings
As research studies continue to demonstrate the negative health effects of poor indoor air quality they are also demonstrating how poor air quality can translate into higher transmission rates of airborne viruses like the cold, flu, and COVID-19.
It is important to remember that high levels of airborne illness tend to be exacerbated in rooms with poor levels of air filtration. Poor air circulation not only results in high levels of CO2 and viruses, but also high levels of dust, dander, germs, microbes, and other particles.
Good indoor air quality is recognized as between between 400-800 ppm (parts per million). CO2 levels that are >1,000 ppm provide an immediate indicator that proper ventilation is required to ensure optimal air quality and well-being for individuals.
Vaccine transportation with dry ice
With the increased demand for dry ice (solid carbon dioxide) for the COVID-19 vaccine, we partnered with a national pharmacy chain to keep their customers and employees safe from the potential hazardous effects for CO2 exposure from the dry ice that is keeping the COVID-19 vaccines cold.
Dry ice is frozen carbon dioxide. As it "melts" it changes directly from a solid to a gas. In an enclosed truck or store room, the CO2 levels can become dangerous.
A national pharmacy chain contacted CO2Meter asking about devices to detect the release of CO2 when dry ice sublimates. The chain needed more than 800 safety monitors to be distributed to the first vaccine administration facilities on short notice. CO2Meter provided them with a CO2 safety monitor that is easy to install and that will detect the gas even at very low levels. The device will alarm and alert staff to possible CO2 exposure if the build-up of the gas exceeds the OSHA mandated set points for safety.
The COVID vaccine must be shipped and stored near -80F for it to maintain its efficacy. To do so required Pfizer's vacine, their shipping partners, and the storage facilities to use dry ice to maintain these low temperatures.
“CO2Meter is delighted to have the opportunity to participate in the safe distribution and administration of the COVID-19 vaccine," said Travis Lenander, CO2Meter CEO.
"Keeping customers and staff safe at the administration site is not only something our business is designed to do but something we are proud of as it helps the nation overall,” he added.
Monitor CO2 Levels for Indoor Air Quality Analysis
The simplest solution to counteracting elevated CO2 levels is to find a reliable, trusted, and easy to use CO2 monitor, which can be used to properly monitor and measure carbon dioxide, temperature, and relative humidity - in real-time.
By utilizing a CO2 monitor individuals, organizations, and businesses can gain instant indication from the LCD display that improved ventilation is required for occupant comfort and health throughout indoor air environments.
For further information on carbon dioxide monitoring, or indoor air quality best practices please visit us here or contact a CO2Meter expert today.