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CO2 Monitor- Your Safety

What the ?

What is that little monitor that Ric is obsessing over in the gym.  And what does it have to do with COVID?  More importantly, what does it have to do with him opening the doors when it is freezing cold (relative to GA) outside?

The Monitor.

It is a CO2 monitor.  It tells us what the levels of carbon dioxide are in the gym.  Although this may seem of little interest to you now, it should be a big interest. It turns out that it can be extremely helpful in controlling the aerosol transmission of COVID-19. While CO2 levels aren’t correlated to COVID transmission risk, they are a proxy metric that tells us how often the air is exchanged in our gym. If our CO2 levels are lower, we have better air exchange and thus lower risk of COVID transmission.

Some Data:

Outdoor CO2 is about 400 ppm (parts per million), and human exhaled breath contains about 40000 ppm of CO2. Thus adding exhaled air to an indoor space rapidly increases the CO2 concentration. Since accurate, affordable CO2 meters are available, measuring CO2 is the best way to get a sense of the amount of exhaled air in a space. If you measure:

~400-500 ppm, the level of ventilation is very good

~800 ppm, 1% of the air you are breathing has already been breathed by someone in the space. This can start to be risky.

~4400 ppm, 10% of the air you are breathing has already been breathed by someone else. This is a very dangerous situation. Levels this high are commonly observed in densely occupied spaces with low ventilation such as many schools.

In well-ventilated spaces, CO2 should stay below about 700 ppm to reduce the chance of COVID-19 infection.

Practical methods:

We are using the CO2 Monitor much like a fresh air thermostat.  Our goal is to keep the CO2 levels below the 800 ppm metric. When the levels hit 600 ppm we ensure that the roll door and front door are open and ceiling fans are on.  If they continue to rise we open additional doors (back and front) as well as turn on the big (noisy) fan. When we are doing this we have yet to have the levels go above 800.

Unfortunately, this means that the temperature can change kinda quickly as we try to increase ventilation. Be prepared for some temp changes.  We are trying to run the heat even with the doors open (which kills me as a Dad). However, you will need to plan ahead and wear clothes suited to the weather.

Is it the same if I am in the corner?

The simple answer is yes.  We have measured the CO2 at various places in the gym during a workout.  It turns out that measuring it a the desk tracks well with measuring it between folks working out.  Yes, if you are right in front of the door with the air coming at you you are getting more fresh air, but the difference is really marginal.

Bottom line for folks:

We take your health seriously, which means ensuring proper ventilation.  The downside is that you need to dress in layers, and plan to take it off/put it on as the temp changes.  

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