What I learned by measuring CO2 levels on my flight

USA News


  • Experts say that the level of carbon dioxide in indoor air is an easy proxy for potential COVID-19 exposure.
  • Outdoor air typically has less than 400 ppm of carbon dioxide.
  • My measurements showed CO2 levels skyrocketed during boarding of my Airbus A319 headed to Vermont, but remained virtually unchanged on my flight back to Denver.

DENVER – On seat 10D, my eyes flicker between my fellow passengers crammed in the aisle and the carbon dioxide detector balanced on my knee.

I can’t help but shudder a little every time someone coughs or sneezes as they board, and the numbers on the detector climb steadily, from about 800 parts per million to more than 1,600 ppm.



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