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Carbon Dioxide and Measuring Levels as an Indoor Air Quality Indicator

EMSL Analytical, Inc. provides testing services, sampling supplies and field instrumentation to identify carbon dioxide along with other gases and substances.

EMSL Analytical, Inc. – WEBWIRE

Earlier this year, KSAZ in Phoenix reported on the mass evacuation of a commercial building in the metropolitan area. The evacuation was due to a leak from a carbon dioxide (CO2) tank in the building that caused a potentially dangerous spike in levels of the gas indoors. Fortunately, no one was hurt and emergency responders found and repaired two leaking gas lines connected to the tank.

Carbon dioxide is a colorless, odorless gas that naturally occurs in the atmosphere as a trace gas. In its frozen form, it is known as dry ice and is used for refrigeration and cooling. As an inert gas, it is used in a number of industrial processes. It is also known as a greenhouse gas with major sources of manmade carbon dioxide emissions coming from fossil fuel burning, electrical generation, transportation vehicles, cement or lime manufacturing, waste burning and natural gas flaring.

People and animals also produce carbon dioxide as an end product of cellular respiration. The CO2 is exhaled from the lungs, this means levels of the gas can vary greatly in buildings and is one of the reasons why it is sometimes measured as an indicator to help assess indoor air quality (IAQ) conditions. The Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) states that the level of CO2 indoors depends upon:

  • The number of people present
  • How long an area has been occupied
  • The amount of outdoor fresh air entering the area
  • The size of the room or area
  • Whether combustion by-products are contaminating the indoor air (e.g., idling vehicles near air intakes, leaky furnaces, tobacco smoke)
  • The outdoor concentration

“MDH also reports that building occupants may experience health effects in buildings where CO2 is elevated, but the symptoms are usually due to the other contaminants in the air that also build up as a result of insufficient ventilation,” said Jody Thomason, Vice President of Products/Corporate Purchasing at EMSL Analytical, Inc. “At high levels, carbon dioxide itself can cause headache, dizziness, nausea and other symptoms. At extremely high levels, CO2 can cause asphyxiation, but CO2 poisoning is rare. At EMSL, we offer air testing services and wide range of real-time gas monitors and data logging instruments to measure for carbon dioxide, carbon monoxide, hydrogen sulfide and numerous other gases. These instruments are available for purchase and rental from EMSL’s Products Division.”

EMSL also recently sponsored an educational video about carbon dioxide and indoor environments that can be seen at: To learn more about air testing or other environmental, occupational or health and safety services and monitoring instruments, please visit, call (800) 220-3675 or email .

About EMSL Analytical, Inc.

EMSL Analytical, Inc. is one of the leading testing laboratories with 43 locations throughout the United States and Canada. EMSL is a nationally recognized and locally focused provider specializing in fast laboratory results for mold, bacteria, Legionella, USP 797, pathogens, asbestos, lead, soot, char & ash from fires, VOC’s, odors, radon, formaldehyde, indoor air quality, microbiology, environmental, industrial hygiene, radiological, food, beverage & consumer products and material testing services for the identification of unknown substances. EMSL services both professionals and the general public. EMSL maintains an extensive list of accreditations from leading organizations as well as state and federal regulating bodies including, but not limited to A2LA, AIHA LAP, LLC. (AIHA EMLAP, AIHA IHLAP, AIHA ELLAP), NVLAP, CDC ELITE, CPSC, CA ELAP, NY ELAP, TX DOH, NJDEP and multiple other state accrediting agencies. Please visit our website at for a complete listing of accreditations.  In addition, EMSL carries a wide range of Sampling Equipment and Investigative Products for environmental professionals.

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