Carbon dioxide (CO2) gets a lot of attention–from the news to science textbooks. This is for a good reason, but it often seems like we’re bombarded with complicated information about this simple gas. That’s why we took the time to break down the facts about CO2, and why carbon dioxide levels are important to you.
What is Carbon dioxide?
A quick refresher from your science class of the past: carbon dioxide is a naturally occurring gas in our air. It’s a byproduct of our metabolic process–we (along with other living, breathing things) add CO2 to the air every time we exhale. Burning fossil fuels also adds carbon dioxide to the atmosphere.
Is CO2 dangerous?
In small quantities: no. carbon dioxide is an unavoidable ingredient in the cocktail of gasses (and chemicals) that make up the air we breathe.
The reality is, an excess of carbon dioxide can pose a problem. Carbon dioxide usually comes up in conversations about Climate Change because it traps heat in the atmosphere–too much CO2 in our air causes global temperatures to rise. What’s interesting is that carbon dioxide levels are usually higher indoors.
Simple answer: humans! Since you’re constantly exhaling carbon dioxide, CO2 levels can rise within minutes of you entering a room. If you sleep with the door closed, you’ll notice the CO2 levels in your bedroom gradually increase overnight.
While it takes a very significant amount of carbon dioxide (150x’s its normal concentration) to pose a serious health risk, it may not take much to affect you in other ways.
Why do we care to monitor CO2 levels, then?
Carbon dioxide can affect your mental health and sleep quality. Common side effects of increased carbon dioxide levels include:
Difficulty with decision making
Luckily, lowering the levels of CO2 in your house is as easy letting some air in. Opening windows, sleeping with your door open, or buying a few air cleaning plants will keep a healthy amount of carbon dioxide in your air.
Have more questions about CO2? Send us a note at firstname.lastname@example.org — we’d love to answer!