Elevated CO2 concentration does not typically present a hazard in a school system setting. In an occupational setting, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s (OSHA) Permissible Exposure Limit (PEL) for CO2 is 5,000 ppm. This 5,000 ppm threshold is far above the 2,000 ppm CO2 concentration that is considered to be an indicator of poor ventilation and well above the levels found in HCPSS cafeterias that rarely exceed the 1,100 ppm target.
According to OSHA, a 2,000-5,000 ppm level may result in occupants experiencing headaches, sleepiness, and stagnant, stale, stuffy air; poor concentration, loss of attention, increased heart rate and slight nausea may also be present.
It is important to note that carbon dioxide (CO2) is a gas that is generated by humans when they exhale. It is not to be confused with carbon monoxide (CO).