Pandemic restrictions are starting to ease, and with that, the return to more indoor spaces is inevitable, long-awaited news for many itching to return to some degree of normalcy.
An epidemiologist told NBC 7 that CO2 monitors can contribute to efforts helping people get back into indoor settings safely.
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Corinne McDaniels-Davidson, who’s the director of the SDSU Institute for Public Health, said that health experts are pushing for businesses to make the switch to CO2 monitors, claiming they give businesses a more tangible idea if they’re actually providing a safe COVID-19 environment beyond for their workers and customers while also giving people a glimpse into the air around them.
McDaniels-Davidson said the CO2 units test the air around you.
“It's a proxy measure for other people's air that they're breathing out that could potentially have aerosolized viral particles,” McDaniels-Davidson said.
McDaniels-Davidson said it’s nearly impossible to measure how much COVID-19 is in the air, but CO2 monitors can determine how much exhaled air -- or CO2 -- is being shared in a given space, and that information might be enough to determining someone’s risk of catching COVID-19 if it is in their environment.
“When you're breathing in other's people's exhaled air, you're at risk for COVID infection,” McDaniels-Davidson explained.
The epidemiologist said people should aim to hit 600 parts per million or lower below on the device, mentioning that anything above that signals a need for more ventilation -- or that the space should be avoided altogether.
“If the levels inside of a business are above 800 -- closer to 1000 -- then it tells them that they need to be doing a few other things,” said McDaniels-Davidson, who suggested that opening a door or cracking a window would help get the ventilation flowing and bring down CO2 levels.
Despite the progress being made with the pandemic, the device is not a substitute for safe COVID-19 practices like social distancing and mask wearing and should be used in tandem, McDaniels-Davidson said.
The monitors cost between $100-$200. McDaniels-Davidson said people should make sure monitors have an NDIR sensor and that only one is required per room.