What Is Carbon Dioxide (CO2)?
Carbon dioxide, otherwise known as CO2, is a colorless gas with a density higher than that of dry air. It’s continuously released through naturally occurring events as well as manmade activities.
Outdoor sources: The primary outdoor source of CO2 comes from burning fossil fuels, such as coal. Other events that contribute to CO2 emissions include forest fires, volcanic eruptions, and motor vehicle pollution. An indirect reason of increasing levels of CO2 is deforestation. When trees die and decompose, CO2 is released.
Indoor sources: CO2 levels are generally higher inside (compared to outdoors), as building occupants produce CO2 when they exhale. Indoor combustion appliances, in particular, gas stoves, generators, and other gasoline powered equipment contribute to CO2 levels.
Health Effects Of CO2
In the short term, exposure to CO2 can cause dizziness, headaches followed by vomiting, disorientation, and, in some cases, loss of consciousness. CO2 exposure often leads to hypertension which reduces productivity and brings down the energy level in your body.
Prolonged exposure to high concentration of CO2 directly impacts the nervous system. It also displaces oxygen in the air which has various effects on your body, including rapid heart rate and breathing, and fatigue. In high concentrations, long-term CO2 exposure can be fatal.
A new study from the Harvard School of Public Health finds that carbon dioxide (CO2) has a direct and negative impact on human cognition and decision-making. Exposure has been found to decrease information utilization, increase headaches, decrease performance, and increase rates of absenteeism in classrooms. Elevated levels can lead to that feeling of lethargy and tiredness often associated with office workers.
Protecting Yourself From CO2 Exposure Indoors
The most effective way of reducing CO2 emission indoors is by identifying and controlling the emission source. Simple protective measures include:
- Installing smoke fans — Cooking emits a large amount of CO2, especially in homes where gas stoves are used. Installing smoke fans in your kitchen will drive the CO2 outside the house.
- Insulating your home — Insulating your home will help control CO2 levels by preventing outdoor air from getting inside. Make sure doors and windows close properly and seal any drafty areas for maximum effect.
- Maintaining the heating and cooling systems — CO2 emissions can be controlled by reducing the energy consumed the home. Heating and cooling systems consume a lot of energy and produce CO2 in the process. Proper maintenance of the system reduces their energy consumption and hence the CO2 level.