Carbon dioxide monitors could warn of unsafe Covid transmission indoors, scientists say

Steve Swinden, Flamefast CEO, demonstrating the CO2 monitor traffic light indicator.


report by Government scientists suggested that coronavirus could be checked using CO2 monitors.

As pupils and teachers return to classrooms after half term, major concern

is currently being expressed throughout the UK for their health and safety and the threat of airborne transmission of COVID. However, Carbon dioxide monitors could warn when indoor areas are

reaching unsafe Covid-19 transmission levels, government scientists have said. A report produced by Sage's Environmental and Modelling Group (EMG)

suggested that fresh air plays a significant role in keeping the virus at bay indoors, and could be checked using CO2 monitors. The scientists conclude that measuring elevated levels of carbon dioxide

would be an effective way to spot if air flow levels have reached a level where the coronavirus is more likely to spread. Early in the epidemic, scientists believed that the COVID largely spread on

surfaces, but there is increasing evidence it is airborne and people can breathe the virus in and out. “Continuous CO2 monitoring is not likely to be a reliable proxy for

transmission risk in most environments,” the scientists conclude. “However preliminary research suggests that in spaces where the same

group of people regularly attend, for example schools, universities and offices, continuous monitoring may be possible to use as a transmission risk indicator.” The report suggests that a space with 20 people would be unsafe once it

reached carbon dioxide levels greater than 1500ppm (parts per million). ‘It has been recognised, even before COVID, that carbon dioxide

38 November 2020

monitoring is a key indicator as to whether a room is properly ventilated,’ commented Steve Swinden, CEO of Flamefast, the leading manufacturer of CO2 monitors in the UK. The researchers recommend that people working in indoor areas such as

offices, universities and schools for several hours should be given regular breaks, with the room purged of air before they return. “We propose installing CO2 monitors with an easy-to-follow traffic light

indicator,” commented Swinden. “These are already widely used in schools and offices, and whilst they do not necessarily solve the ventilation problem, they provide the occupants with the information to safely manage the air quality.” “Fresh air levels can be measured with CO2 monitors and doors and windows opened at regular intervals,” concluded Swinden.

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