CO2 sensor and Covid-19: preventing virus transmission

CO2 sensor and Covid 19: how to reduce contamination in closed rooms?

Masks, distancing, frequent hand washing: barrier measures have been and continue to be of crucial importance in limiting the spread of Covid-19. In addition to these key actions, it is important to note that enclosed spaces are places that are conducive to the circulation of the virus. Indeed, ventilation is often a forgotten gesture even though it reduces the risk of transmission of Covid-19 between individuals present in the same room. To facilitate the adoption of this simple action, the use of a CO2 sensor can be considered. But how does one choose the right CO2 sensor? What is its practical purpose? Are there any measures to combat Covid-19 with CO2 sensors? All our answers are in this article.

What is CO2?

It is a gas that occurs naturally in the air (unlike carbon monoxide). It is odourless and colourless, which means that it is impossible to detect. The carbon dioxide molecule, indoors, is mainly due to the respiration of living beings (and more particularly when they exhale). A human can release up to 3000 ppm of carbon dioxide.

Measuring the CO2 level in the room: why is it so important?

Carbon dioxide is of no consequence to humans in low concentrations.

This gas is measured in ppm, i.e. parts per million.

However, once it exceeds a certain threshold and the ambient air is saturated with it, CO2 can be harmful to health. According to the French Agency for Food, Environmental and Occupational Health & Safety, from 1000pm onwards, carbon dioxide can have effects on psychomotor performance, i.e. on concentration, reflection, decision-making, etc. More serious adverse effects can also be observed when higher CO2 concentrations are reached.

As soon as the concentration of CO2 reaches 1% (1000 ppm) of the air present, the individual's breathing begins to accelerate. From 3% (3000 ppm), real physiological problems such as headaches or increased blood pressure can be observed. Finally, from the 5% threshold (i.e. 5000 ppm), dizziness may occur and above 10% the individual may even die.

The CO2 level is a good measure of whether the room you are in has proper ventilation.

The French norm EN 13779 standard has defined a CO2 level below 400 ppm as excellent and a level above 1000 ppm as bad.

Towards new measures against Covid-19 with CO2 sensors?

Since the start of the Coronavirus pandemic, the government has emphasised the importance of barrier measures to minimise the risk of transmission of the virus. However, the ventilation of homes and schools seems to be a proposal that came a little later and less massively in the recommendations made. However, airing your home, a classroom or any other closed room allows the air to be renewed and thus reduces the risk of transmission of the Coronavirus.

The transmission is invisible because it is the breathing of aerosol particles that can lead to Covid-19 contamination. Talking, laughing etc. releases aerosol particles that remain airborne and pose a potential risk of contamination to others in the vicinity. It should also be noted that aerosol particles can travel over a radius of about two meters. This is also the reason why a school is a place where transmission happens quickly.

Recently, given the health crisis, the Belgian government made it compulsory for schools to have an air quality detector.

In France, schools are beginning to look at the issue of installing CO2 sensors in classrooms. Indeed, before the pandemic, very few schools were equipped with an air quality sensor. CO2 sensors are especially important as there may be many pupils in the classrooms, so high levels of carbon dioxide can be reached quickly. Thanks to these sensors, the teacher or any of the students who hear the alarm can ventilate the room. This is especially important as the virus is circulating more widely in schools at the beginning of the year.

CO2 sensor, CO2 detector or air quality sensor? What role does it play?

CO2 detector or CO2 sensor are two names for the same carbon dioxide measuring devices.

A CO2 sensor (or detector) can also be an air quality sensor, i.e. a detector that measures criteria other than CO2 to determine ambient air quality.

In general, an air quality sensor can help to keep the air in the home cleaner and thus reduce indoor pollution. This pollution is partly caused by carbon dioxide, but not only, fine particles, VOCs, temperature (the indoor temperature should not exceed 22 to 23 degrees), or humidity can also play a role. All of these elements must be taken into account to ensure healthy indoor air.

The Netatmo Smart Weather Station indoor module allows you to take control of your home's indoor environment and protect your health. By providing you with key data on the air quality in your home, you can reduce indoor pollution (humidity, VOCs, carbon dioxide levels...) by taking appropriate measures.

An air quality sensor can either be a separate device just in the form of a sensor or integrated into another measuring device such as a weather station.

It continuously measures the concentration of CO2 in the air of the room in which it is placed. A CO2 sensor will make its measurements accurately from the area in which it is located. When the CO2 level is too high, it warns the occupants of the room by using an alarm to immediately ventilate.

To accurately monitor indoor air quality, the Netatmo Intelligent Weather Station and the Netatmo Intelligent Air Quality Sensor are ideal allies: humidity levels, atmosphere quality, etc. You can access weather measurements on your smartphone and be alerted when it's time to air out.

Aerating is good, but do not forget ventilation

With the Covid-19 pandemic, an increasing amount of households want to have excellent indoor air quality. Nevertheless, if aerating seems to be the first solution, ventilation should not be neglected. Indeed, ventilation makes it possible to go further in purifying the indoor air. In addition to opening the windows, it is best to also opt for a CMV (Continuous Mandatory Ventilation). Ventilation increases the airflow and thus the renewal of the indoor air while also playing an important role in reducing the risk of humidity in the house.