CO2, ventilation and Corona... what about this?

In the meantime, we are familiar with the general measures to prevent Corona infections: Keeping distance, wearing a mouth mask and washing hands.
The measures sometimes differ in details per country, for example, 1,5 meters must be kept in the Netherlands and Belgium, but 1 meter in France. In addition, you are allowed to have hug contacts in Belgium, but this is not discussed in the Netherlands. Each country therefore has its own rules and also its own plan to relax the rules during the summer now that the infections and number of hospital admissions seem to be falling.
But what is not always talked about is importance of a good ventilation and the CO2 level in the air. So what exactly is that? What is the relationship between CO2 level and health? 

What is CO2 in short?

Everyone breathes in oxygen and exhales CO2. If you are alone in a room, this is not a problem and the CO2 level will not rise, but the more people are in the same room, the more CO2 is exhaled. If a room is not properly ventilated, the CO2 concentration (PPM) will rise and this means that there is not enough "clean" air in a room. You will therefore also inhale more CO2 and this can have unpleasant consequences.

Why is the CO2 level important?

Staying in a room with too high a CO2 content can lead to unpleasant situations. If the CO2 value is higher than 1500ppm, it can already lead to drowsiness. If the ppm goes up to 2000 ppm, people may experience headaches, poor concentration, loss of concentration, increased heart rate and mild nausea. But more importantly these days...from 800ppm, viruses are easier to spread.

This has been proven by several virologists and is more important than ever in this day and age. Nobody wants the corona virus (or any other virus) to spread when it could have been prevented by simply opening a window. 

What can I do to lower the CO2 level again?

There are specialized air purification systems, but they are very expensive and require a lot of maintenance and are therefore not suitable for everyone. The easiest way is simply to open a window or door. You will see that after a few minutes the PPM value drops and the air quality becomes pleasant again.  

A misconception is that Airco gives clean air ... that is not the case. An air conditioner cools the air, but does not provide cleaner air. 

How do I measure the CO2?

The easiest way to measure the PPM is a CO2-meter. This meter can tell you exactly how much CO2 there is in the air. The meters work with an NDIR sensor that can very accurately measure the CO2 in the air and can even indicate when ventilation needs to be done. There is also often a color system, so you can see at a glance whether the air quality is still good. 

As an employer, are you obliged to reduce the CO2 to measure?

In Belgium, as an employer, you are obliged to stay below the established threshold. The maximum threshold for each office is an average maximum concentration of 900 ppm during minimum 95% of working time.

Also in the Netherlands there are strict rules for air quality and ventilation. These can be found in the building decree. Newly built buildings and houses must have a ventilation system that meets the standards. Unfortunately, it is not always well regulated in older buildings and supervision is minimal. 

As an employer, you are therefore always obliged to create a good working environment for your employees and especially in times of a pandemic it is more important than ever.

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