In educational settings, indoor air quality (IAQ) plays a pivotal role in shaping students’ learning experiences and academic performance.1 Now, carbon dioxide (CO2), plays a significant role in determining IAQ.  

This blog touches on the impact of CO2 on cognitive function and learning, shedding light on how IAQ optimization can lead to better educational outcomes.  

CO2 and indoor air quality  
CO2 is a naturally occurring gas and a crucial component of Earth’s atmosphere. It is produced through various processes, including human and animal respiration. However, in indoor spaces where people gather, such as classrooms or offices, CO2 concentrations can become elevated if there is insufficient ventilation, meaning an inadequate influx of fresh outdoor air. 

The accumulation of CO2 has a negative impact on IAQ. It’s helpful to understand the relationship between CO2 levels, measured in parts per million (ppm), and IAQ:  

  • 420 ppm: This is the level of fresh outside air. 
  • Below 1000 ppm: These are normal indoor CO2 levels. 
  • 1000 – 1400 ppm: Here, people experience drowsiness, fatigue, and cognitive abilities decline by 15%
  • Above 1400 ppm: Occupants of these spaces experience headaches, inability to focus, and cognitive abilities’ decline by 50%.  

For a more comprehensive understanding of carbon dioxide and its impact on indoor air quality, check out this informative blog article. It delves into the topic in greater detail and provides additional insights. 

CO2 and cognitive function 
High levels of CO2 have a significant impact on cognitive performance.2 Scientific research has shown that elevated concentrations of CO2 can affect attention, focus, and decision-making abilities.

Elevated CO2 levels can lead to difficulties in maintaining focus and reduced information retention. This not only affects students but also educators, making it harder to teach effectively and manage their classrooms. 

Poor indoor air quality in educational environments can also result in physical symptoms like headaches, dizziness, fatigue, and respiratory issues. These symptoms create additional challenges in creating a conducive learning and teaching environment. 

Addressing CO2 levels for education 
To effectively reduce CO2 levels and improve IAQ in learning spaces, try implementing these actionable strategies. By following these comprehensive steps, educational institutions and individuals can create a healthier, more conducive environment for students and educators: 

  1. Raise air quality awareness: Educate people about the importance of IAQ and its impact on learning. Encourage everyone to be mindful of actions that affect indoor air quality, such as using aerosol products, turning on thermostat fans, etc.  
  2. Start monitoring: Introduce advanced IAQ monitoring solutions, like the Aranet4 HOME, which can track CO2 in real-time. These tracking devices offer valuable insights into indoor air conditions, enabling fast, data-driven decisions to optimize ventilation, adjust HVAC systems, and maintain optimal CO2 levels.4 
    Aranet4 HOME indoor air quality monitor
  3. Provide proper ventilation: Ensuring adequate airflow is essential for reducing CO2 buildups. Encourage the regular opening of windows and doors to allow fresh outdoor air to circulate through indoor spaces. Additionally, consider utilizing natural ventilation systems such as skylights or vents. Then, check HVAC systems with regular maintenance, cleaning, and filter replacement. 
  4. Use air purifiers: Consider utilizing air purifiers equipped with high-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filters, which capture and remove airborne pollutants. These devices complement existing ventilation efforts and enhance overall air quality in classrooms. 
  5. Incorporate green spaces: It’s a great idea to place plants in learning areas. Many forms of vegetation naturally absorb CO2 and release oxygen, helping to improve indoor air quality.

By taking actions like these, you can effectively reduce CO2 levels and create healthier indoor environments. These combined efforts support students’ cognitive development, promote focus and engagement, and foster a conducive atmosphere for successful learning experiences.  


  1. CO2 in Schools: it doesn’t kill the student, it may kill your grades. 
  2. The Effect of CO2 Concentration on Children’s Well-Being during the Process of Learning.’s_Well-Being_during_the_Process_of_Learning 
  3. Classroom Carbon Dioxide Concentration, School Attendance, and Educational Attainment. 
  4. Enhancing safety and learning in schools through smart CO2 monitors. 

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