We usually hear about carbon dioxide as a greenhouse gas accumulating in the atmosphere and causing global warming, but it can also be an issue in our homes. I recently purchased a CO2 monitor to measure carbon dioxide concentration in homes, including my own. I purchased it at a "grow store" serving the marijuana industry. Why? Because all kinds of plants thrive on carbon dioxide, so marijuana growers buy tanks of the gas and pump it into their grow rooms for greater production. The monitors help them track the level so they can keep it optimum.
While high levels of this gas are beneficial for plants, it's the opposite for human beings.
The concentration of CO2 outdoors is about 400 parts per million (PPM), which, by the way, is up from the 200’s prior to the industrial revolution. Since we exhale CO2, the concentration in an enclosed area (like a home) can rise depending on the number of people present. When it’s just Rita and me at home, it’s in the 400’s, but during our holiday party with over a dozen people present, it rose to over 1,000 PPM. Increased CO2 concentration can cause headaches, sleepiness and reduced brain function.
If you find yourself dozing off in a fully occupied auditorium -- whether it's a lecture, movie or other event -- it might well be because of the high level of carbon dioxide from everyone breathing! Go outdoors during the intermission, and you may find that you return more awake and ready for the second act.
I used to think that these "greenhouse gases" ascended in the atmosphere where they had the effect of retaining or raising heat for our planet. Now I understand that elevated carbon dioxide exists at all levels of the atmosphere, including where we live and move about.
This item was published in abbreviated form on Jan. 28, 2016, in the Denver Post's YourHub section and in four Jefferson County weekly newspapers.