Indoor CO2 Levels and Possible Headaches?

Chas Tennis

G.O.A.T.
During the recent CA wildfires we had very bad air quality. Our advice - heard many times - was to "stay inside and close the doors and windows". While learning about smoke, HEPA air cleaners and other subjects, I found CO2 and its relation to building ventilation to be a very interesting topic. I know people that have complained of headaches for years - headaches have been associated with higher levels of CO2 in buildings and bedrooms.
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Background. CO2 exists in air at average levels of about 400 ppm. (parts per million)

[1% is 10,000 ppm]

Oxygen exists in air at 21% or 210,000 ppm.

Human breath contains roughly 4% or 40,000 ppm of CO2.

It seems likely that a second person, dog, etc. could make the CO2 levels much higher near someone that is sleeping.

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"Carbon Dioxide (CO2) Classification Guide
400ppm – Normal outdoor air level.

400 ~ 1000ppm – Typical value level indoors with good ventilation.

*Note: if CO2 levels are low when the building is sealed and occupied, check for over-ventilation (too much fresh air = energy wasted).

1,000ppm – the OSHA/ASHRAE recommended maximum level in a closed room. Considered maximum comfort level in many countries.

> 1,200ppm – Poor air quality – requires ventilation to the room.

2,000ppm – According to many studies this level of CO2 produces a significant increase in drowsiness, tiredness, headaches, lower levels of concentration, and an increased likelihood of spreading respiratory viruses like colds, etc. Proper ventilation at this level is needed - immediately. "

See other lists of CO2 levels vs effects.
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Why CO2 at around 2000 ppm may be associated with headaches is not clear to me.

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When smoke in the wildfires got heavy outside we used HEPA air cleaners so that we could stay in our house and breath.

Ventilation - Houses and rooms must be ventilated with a certain number of air exchanges per hour - this is a safety issue. The advice for wildfires is to stay inside and close the windows and doors.

CO2 levels can be used as a general indication of how well the house/room is being ventilation. 400 ppm is a lot of ventilation and, for example, 1200 ppm is poor ventilation. We got a CO2 sensor and learned about the possible headaches and CO2 level.

Our CO2 levels in closed bedrooms routinely went above 1000 ppm with two and even one person in the room. It could get higher.

Removing smoke from the air is one issue that HEPA air cleaners do well with. But ventilation requiring air with heavy smoke is also necessary.

If you have had headaches you might learn more about CO2 and headaches and consider getting a CO2 sensor to see your levels, especially when sleeping or hiding from smoke.

We monitoring our CO2 levels now.
 
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Nostradamus

Bionic Poster
OMG,, this must explain my recent headaches..... i couldn't pinpoint the reason but this all makes sense now. Do i have to go see a doctor ?
 

SystemicAnomaly

Talk Tennis Guru
What kind of plants should i buy ? small ones or big ones or what type of plant ? i don't want a huge one cause that can get messy
I don't know much about house plants. No indoor plants in my place. Cortisol levels are likely high.

Post #4 provides some suggestions for you. Sounds like the bamboo is one to avoid since it grows so rapidly.
 

Nostradamus

Bionic Poster
I don't know much about house plants. No indoor plants in my place. Cortisol levels are likely high.

Post #4 provides some suggestions for you. Sounds like the bamboo is one to avoid since it grows so rapidly.
i am buying some peace lilly today. it has white flowers which i like. not sure how good it is at absorbing CO2 ?
 

SystemicAnomaly

Talk Tennis Guru
i am buying some peace lilly today. it has white flowers which i like. not sure how good it is at absorbing CO2 ?
It's listed in that article specifically because it is supposed to be good at absorbing CO2 and other nasties. They "help to purify air and reduce harmful particulates in the air, as they absorb carbon dioxide to photosynthesize fresh oxygen."

Might need to buy more than just one to do a decent job. I think I might do the same.
 
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SinneGOAT

Hall of Fame
I believe it correlates to headaches when playing. Generally when it is a hot day or smoky outside and I play in those conditions I get a headache.
 

Chas Tennis

G.O.A.T.
It is interesting to read the ventilation requirements for homes and larger buildings. Wikipedia has several related webpages. Start with ventilation, Indoor Air Quality and go on.

I read that it takes 15 cfm ventilation per person. That should be checked. Also for plants, it was 700+ plants per person. Check that estimate also.

The CO2 subject is very interesting and it says that CO2 level of 2000 ppm may cause effects such as headaches. If I had persistent headaches, I would experiment to rule out CO2. Also, if you want to hunker down during the EPA AQI 200-400 smoke, checking your CO2 levels might be one of the few options you have control your ventillation. I am not that knowledgeable in the best approaches to take.

I will say that if you 'stay home and shut the windows and doors' the average person is likely to have no idea of how much smoke is in their home. From my experience with some air filtering, you might have 75% of the outside air quality, for example, if EPA AQI of 400 outside for PM 2.5, you would have AQI of 300 inside your home. I had AQI 200 inside with 400 outside, but I was filtering with both a filter air cleaner, plus a HEPA. We could retreat to a bedroom, that the wind was not directed onto, and that had less leaks, and get AQI down to low numbers, estimating, 10. A smoke sensor is always necessary to know your smoke levels.

You can search PurpleAir Maps and look at the sensors in your area. You can type in a city to see the AQI there.

Thread on PurpleAir.
 
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WildVolley

Legend
because it is kind of dusty outside and i only allow clean immaculate into my house. i have a policy of immaculate perception in my house
You could get one of those fancy air cleaners, but yeah, it gets pretty dusty where I live, especially when people are outside having fun with leaf blowers.
 

Chas Tennis

G.O.A.T.
Here is why the CO2 levels are about 400 ppm outside.

But to keep it on topic we just need the the CO2 level outside and how many times over it is inside our homes. CO2 2000 ppm is 5 times the average outdoor level for 2020.
 

Chas Tennis

G.O.A.T.
Another very important point is that I don't understand how CO2 levels cause headaches and other effects.

But one point of this thread is that CO2 is a general indicator of the quality of ventilation for other pollutants. Any other gases, such as formaldehyde, VOCs, etc. will also be higher if CO2 is higher because of poor ventilation. If we install 'tight' windows and doors or if our houses were built 'tight', then CO2 levels and the other gases would rise to higher, day-to-day levels whenever your windows and doors are closed. If you have kids, pets and - I don't even want to think about it - natural gas burning in your home, your CO2 levels would be much higher. I did house projects decades ago and kept installing 'tight' windows and doors. That was decades before I read about ventilation and CO2 levels.............

The catch is that if your are surrounded by AQI 200 smoky air (unhealthy) or AQI 400 smoky air (hazardous) you still need to filter and bring inside a quantity of that smoky air into your house. You need a minimum circulation of new air, smoky or not. I am not an expert on this subject but everything that I read indicates that knowing CO2 levels is important and very useful.

Right on cue today, my CO2 sensor is indicating that the 1000 ppm level has been exceeded and it is beeping an alarm. Two adults have been breathing in a large room. The air outside is relatively clean today, AQI good, so I can just open the door and a window to cross ventilate and - whoosh - in a few minutes we will be back to around CO2 400 and then levels below 1000 ppm for many hours.

But when that AQI 400 smoke is outside the door, what do you do?

Note - Ozone and other air pollutants were not considered in the above. We get mostly Ozone and PM2.5 pollutants going to the AQI unhealthy levels.
 
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During the recent CA wildfires we had very bad air quality. Our advice - heard many times - was to "stay inside and close the doors and windows". While learning about smoke, HEPA air cleaners and other subjects, I found CO2 and its relation to building ventilation to be a very interesting topic. I know people that have complained of headaches for years - headaches have been associated with higher levels of CO2 in buildings and bedrooms.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Background. CO2 exists in air at average levels of about 400 ppm. (parts per million)

[1% is 10,000 ppm]

Oxygen exists in air at 21% or 210,000 ppm.

Human breath contains roughly 4% or 40,000 ppm of CO2.

It seems likely that a second person, dog, etc. could make the CO2 levels much higher near someone that is sleeping.

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

"Carbon Dioxide (CO2) Classification Guide
400ppm – Normal outdoor air level.

400 ~ 1000ppm – Typical value level indoors with good ventilation.

*Note: if CO2 levels are low when the building is sealed and occupied, check for over-ventilation (too much fresh air = energy wasted).

1,000ppm – the OSHA/ASHRAE recommended maximum level in a closed room. Considered maximum comfort level in many countries.

> 1,200ppm – Poor air quality – requires ventilation to the room.

2,000ppm – According to many studies this level of CO2 produces a significant increase in drowsiness, tiredness, headaches, lower levels of concentration, and an increased likelihood of spreading respiratory viruses like colds, etc. Proper ventilation at this level is needed - immediately. "

See other lists of CO2 levels vs effects.
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Why CO2 at around 2000 ppm may be associated with headaches is not clear to me.

----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

When smoke in the wildfires got heavy outside we used HEPA air cleaners so that we could stay in our house and breath.

Ventilation - Houses and rooms must be ventilated with a certain number of air exchanges per hour - this is a safety issue. The advice for wildfires is to stay inside and close the windows and doors.

CO2 levels can be used as a general indication of how well the house/room is being ventilation. 400 ppm is a lot of ventilation and, for example, 1200 ppm is poor ventilation. We got a CO2 sensor and learned about the possible headaches and CO2 level.

Our CO2 levels in closed bedrooms routinely went above 1000 ppm with two and even one person in the room. It could get higher.

Removing smoke from the air is one issue that HEPA air cleaners do well with. But ventilation requiring air with heavy smoke is also necessary.

If you have had headaches you might learn more about CO2 and headaches and consider getting a CO2 sensor to see your levels, especially when sleeping or hiding from smoke.

We monitoring our CO2 levels now.
It could also be an electrolyte imbalance [ie sodium, magnesium, and calcium] or even simple dehydration.
 

Nostradamus

Bionic Poster
@Nostradamus - you're a Stanford guy, Stanford is in California. Surely you can figure out which "houseplant" would work best. Hint: The one I'm thinking of might also help relieve anxiety over the CO2 levels and help with headaches.
My ethics and core values prevents me from doing such a thing.
 

Rabbit

G.O.A.T.
My ethics and core values prevents me from doing such a thing.
To that I can only quote the Founding Fathers
George Washington said:
Make the most you can of the Indian Hemp seed and sow it everywhere.
and
John Adams said:
We shall, by and by, want a world of hemp more for our own consumption.
and
Thomas Jefferson said:
Hemp is of first necessity to the wealth & protection of the country.
and (not a founding father)
Arnold Schwarzenegger said:
That is not a drug, it’s a leaf.
and one of my personal heros
William F. Buckley jr said:
The amount of money and of legal energy being given to prosecute hundreds of thousands of Americans who are caught with a few ounces of marijuana in their jeans simply makes no sense —the kindest way to put it. A sterner way to put it is that it is an outrage, an imposition on basic civil liberties and on the reasonable expenditure of social energy.
and finally the godfather of pot
Willie Nelson said:
I think people need to be educated to the fact that marijuana is not a drug. Marijuana is an herb and a flower. God put it here. If He put it here and He wants it to grow, what gives the government the right to say that God is wrong?
Now with all this objectivity, how can you say it's wrong? It reminds me of a popular 70s song, If lovin' you is wrong, I don't want to be right.....
 

sureshs

Bionic Poster
"During daylight hours, plants take in carbon dioxide and release oxygen through photosynthesis, and at night only about half that carbon is then released through respiration."

So doesn't this mean that plants give out C02 and not O2 at night? It seems to be half the CO2 they consume in the daytime, so overall they are obviously O2 generators in net, but is it good to have them around at night when they are emitting CO2 a lot?
 

SystemicAnomaly

Talk Tennis Guru
That is methane from the farts
Something of an urban myth. In part. A small percentage of bovine CH4 is expelled as flatulence. Some in the manure as well. But the primary source of bovine methane is from their belches.

.
 

sureshs

Bionic Poster
Something of an urban myth. In part. A small percentage of bovine CH4 is expelled as flatulence. Some in the manure as well. But the primary source of bovine methane is from their belches.

.
Just a different opening
 
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