Can a colourless, odourless gas impact the spread of the COVID-19 virus and our ability to think and problem solve?
Can ventilation help in the fight against the spread of COVID-19?
In my madness, I decided to start a new B2C business in the middle of COVID-19. One of the stated elements of best practice was to use CO2 as a proxy for measuring ventilation.
We know that much of the spread of COVID-19 happens indoors. Typically from the inhalation of airborne particulates that contain the coronavirus.
The obvious solution is to keep away from infected people, but many people do not show any symptoms (especially children). It is estimated that up to 40% of people with COVID-19 do not show symptoms.
So why this blog?
In our business, we have strived to keep the CO2 at very healthy levels. That is less than 800 ppm. The typical value outdoors is just over 400 ppm. It is said that a well-ventilated room is around the 800 ppm mark.
Earlier in the week, with my wife at home in our small apartment, she said she felt “heady” and wondered if it could be the gas boiler or something else. The Carbon monoxide alarm was OK so I decided to test the CO2.
The level was almost 2000! I forgot to take a photo at that time, we were more interested in ventilating the space.
We opened the door and windows and quickly it dropped to under 800. She instantly felt better.
Research on CO2
There is clinical evidence that people working in spaces with high CO2 have reduced cognition. We also know that where COVID-19 has been spread, it is due (in part) to poor ventilation (high CO2). Research has shown that for work and education, a well-ventilated space helps cognition.
Our take-away lesson. We now open doors and windows for 15 minutes twice a day. Whilst we are subject to COVID-19, I will not shop in any establishment that closes its doors! Ventilation is critical
In our business, we have aimed for near to outside air quality, and that was important to us. But yes it was cold inside!
Lessons for Shop and restaurant owners regarding COVID-19
COVID-19 is not over. if and when you are allowed to open keep ALL doors and windows open. Its is critical for the safety of your customers and staff
Lessons for HR Professionals regarding COVID-19
Are you ensuring that people that CAN work from home are doing so?
Are you monitoring CO2 in your offices and talking steps if it gets over 800 ppm
Lessons for families at home
Are you letting people into your home? are you ventilating your home at least twice a day, and during any time that others are in your property?
Be safe. Knowledge is power.
Possible future impacts of elevated levels of atmospheric CO2 on human cognitive performance and on the design and operation of ventilation systems in buildings – Robert J Lowe, Gesche M Huebner, Tadj Oreszczyn, 2018 (sagepub.com)