Atmospheric carbon dioxide levels on the rise

Carbon dioxide (CO2) is a naturally formed chemical compound, partly responsible for the greenhouse effect and is considered the most important human-contributed greenhouse gas. [1]  Human activities have altered the global carbon cycle in the past centuries and human emissions of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere have exceeded natural fluctuations. [1] As of June 2013, the global CO2 level have reached 395.97 ppm.[2]

A recent study done at Berkeley Lab found that indoor CO2 levels as low as 1,000 ppm can have adverse effects and impair people's decision-making performance. [3] The results were unexpected and may exert implications in high density indoor places such as university lecture halls, office environments, and other commercial and educational facilities, where some have detected CO2 levels of up to 3,000 ppm. These results provide new insights compare to recognized acceptance levels, such as the American Conference of Governmental Industrial Hygienist's (ACGIH®) recommended exposure limit for carbon dioxide: 5,000 ppm for time-weighted average and 30,000 for short-term exposure ceiling limit. [4] Larger and more thorough studies including physiological and psychological effects of CO2 levels between 1,000 to 5,000 ppm on humans need to be studied in order to recognize the effects on human decision making and learning processes.

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References:

  1. Falkowski, P.; Scholes, R. J.; Boyle, E.; Canadell, J.; Canfield, D.; Elser, J.; Gruber, N.; Hibbard, K. et al. (2000). "The Global Carbon Cycle: A Test of Our Knowledge of Earth as a System". Science 290 (5490): 291–296.
  2. Ed Dlugokencky and Pieter Tans, NOAA/ESRL (www.esrl.noaa.gov/gmd/ccgg/trends/)
  3. Chao, Julie. "Elevated Indoor Carbon Dioxide Impairs Decision-Making Performance « Berkeley Lab News Center." Berkeley Lab News Center RSS. N.p., n.d. Web. 13 Aug. 2013.
  4. Carbon Dioxide : OSH Answers. N.p., n.d. Web. 13 Aug. 2013. (http://www.ccohs.ca/oshanswers/chemicals/chem_profiles/carbon_dioxide.html)