CO2 Monitors Help us WATCH the Air We Breathe

Written by Comms Team, November 15, 2023

Devices Now Available to Borrow at Every Library in Peterborough City, County, and Hiawatha First Nation

Starting today, residents can borrow a CO2 Monitor at any library in Peterborough City, County, and Hiawatha First Nation.

In March 2022, Peterborough Public Library in collaboration with Peterborough Public Health with devices donated by Prescientx and CO2 Check, was the first library in North America to offer CO2 monitors as part of their Library of Things lending catalogue.

Cooler temperatures and rainy weather mean that people spend more time gathering indoors. With that comes an increased risk of spreading and acquiring respiratory illnesses. Respiratory illnesses, like RSV, Influenza, and COVID-19, can be transmitted through the air we breathe. Carbon dioxide (CO2), the air we exhale can be monitored and used to indicate the quality of air we breathe.

Julie Bromley, Manager of Environmental Health at Peterborough Public Health explains, “Carbon dioxide (CO2) monitors are one tool we can add to our suite of tools to help us stay healthy. CO2 monitors can act as an indicator for determining whether a space has adequate ventilation and fresh air. If CO2 levels are high, it can mean that people’s exhaled breath is lingering in the room; breath that may contain airborne viruses.”

When analysing the reading on a CO2 Monitor, 600 parts per million of CO2 is considered ‘good’, whereas 1,000 parts per million is considered ‘poor’ and indicates that action should be taken to add fresh air into the space.

“We’ve seen fluctuation with our local COVID-19 and Respiratory Virus Risk Index lately, indicating that with the change in seasons, comes a change in risk,” said Julie Bromley, “After dealing with the pandemic for nearly four years, we’ve learned how to protect ourselves when the risk is higher – and it starts with breathing clean air where we live, learn, work, and play. At your next party, borrow a CO2 Monitor from your local library, place it in the corner of a room that you are gathering in and check it occasionally. If you notice a high reading, try to improve ventilation in the space.”

If values on the CO2 monitor are getting high, Bromley suggests increasing the ventilation in a space. “It’s really as simple as remembering to W.A.T.C.H. the air,” said Bromley:

  • Windows or doors open, even a little
  • Air flowing from duct the work or registers
  • Thermostat fan set to on, not auto
  • CO2 monitors in the space, and
  • HEPA filters (portable ones) placed at least 1.5’ from the wall

Accessing a CO2 monitor just got easier, thanks to a partnership with each library in the County of Peterborough and at the L.I.F.E. Services and Cultural Centre at Hiawatha First Nation.

“Libraries are vital community infrastructure, fostering literacy, relationships, and knowledge,” said Maggie Pearson, CEO and Librarian at the Douro-Dummer Public Library. “Making these CO2 monitors available to our residents through our Library of Things lending program is one more way that we can provide equitable access to tools, resources, and information – all while improving the health of our community,” she added.

Residents are encouraged to visit their local library to borrow a device, especially if they are hosting a social gathering where poor indoor air quality may be an issue.

More information is available on PPH’s CO2 Website.


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