Dynamics of carbon dioxide concentrations in the air and its effect on the cognitive ability of school students


The carbon dioxide (CO2) production intensity by a secondary school student is studied using a nondispersive infrared CO2 logger for different conditions: relaxation, mental stress, and physical stress. CO2 production measured for mental stress is 24% higher than that for relaxation, while CO2 production for physical stress is more than 2.5 times higher than relaxation levels. Dynamics of CO2 concentration in the classroom air is measured for a typical school building. It is shown that even when the classroom is ventilated between classes, CO2 concentration exceeds 2100 parts per million (ppm), which is significantly higher than the recommended limits defined in developed countries. The ability of seventh-grade school students to perform tasks requiring mental concentration is tested under different CO2 concentration conditions (below 1000 ppm and above 2000 ppm). Five-letter word anagrams are used as test tasks. Statistical analysis of the test results revealed a significant reduction in the number of provided correct answers and an increase in the number of errors when CO2 levels exceeded 2000 ppm.

This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution.


  1. Badly polluted air in Europe’s classrooms: Italian team presents study results to ERS Congress, in European Respiratory Society Annual Congress, September 2–6, 2006, Press Release September 6, 12:00 GMT. http://dev.ersnet.org/uploads/Document/WEB_CHEMIN_89_1161864847.doc.

  2. Celis-Mercier, S., Potvin, A., and Tardif, M., Air temperature and CO2 variations in a naturally ventilated classroom under a nordic climate, in PLEA2009—26th Conference on Passive and Low Energy Architecture, Quebec City, Canada, June 22–24, 2009. http://www.plea2009.arc.ulaval.ca/Papers/2.STRATEGIES/2.3%20PostOccupancy%20Evaluation/ORAL/2-3-17-PLEA2009 Quebec.pdf.

  3. Eliseeva, O.V., Justification of the maximum allowable concentration of carbon dioxide in air, Gig. Sanit., 1964, no. 8.

    Google Scholar 

  4. Gurina, I.V., Safe level of carbon dioxide needs revision. Part 1, Ekol. Vestn. Ross., 2008, no. 8. http://enontek.ru/publikacii/ehkovestnik-9-2008; Part 2, Ekol. Vestn. Ross., 2008, no. 10. http://www.enontek.ru/ publikacii/ehkovestnik-10-2008.

    Google Scholar 

  5. Gurina, I.V., Who is responsible for sultry air in buildings, Khim. Zhizn, 2010, no. 2, pp. 22–25.

    Google Scholar 

  6. Khorseva, N.I., Psychophysiological indicators as criteria for estimating the ecological safety of the place of residence, in Klimat, kachestvo atmosfernogo vozdukha i zdorov’e moskvichei (Climate, Atmospheric Air Quality, Health of Moscow Residents), Revich, B.A., Ed., Moscow: Adamant", 2006, pp. 225–240.

    Google Scholar 

  7. Khorseva, N.I., Using psychophysiological indices to estimate the effect of cosmophysical factors (review), Izv., Atmos. Ocean. Phys., 2013, vol. 49, no. 8, pp. 839–852.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  8. Myhrvold, A.N., Olsen, E., and Lauridsen, O., Indoor environment in schools—pupils health and performance in regard to CO2 concentrations, in Indoor Air'96, Proceedings of the 7th International Conference on Indoor Air Quality and Cimate, Held July 21–26, 1996, Nagiya, Japan, vol. 4, pp. 369–374.

    Google Scholar 

  9. Norbäck, D. and Nordström, K., Sick building syndrome in relation to air exchange rate, CO2, room temperature and relative air humidity in university computer classrooms: An experimental study, Int. Arch. Occup. Environ. Health, 2008, vol. 82, no. 1, pp. 21–30.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  10. Redlich, C.A., Sparer, J., and Cullen, M.R., Sick-building syndrome, The Lancet, 1997, vol. 349, no. 9057, pp. 1013–1016.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  11. Robertson, D.S., Health effects of increase in concentration of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, Curr. Sci., 2006, vol. 90, no. 12, pp. 1607–1609.

    Google Scholar 

  12. Robertson, D.S., The effect of increased CO2 in the atmosphere on human health, Santekhnika, Otoplenie, Konditsionirovanine, 2008, no. 4. http://www.c-o-k.ru/articles/o-tom-kak-vliyaet-rastuschiy-uroven-co2-v-atmosferena-organizm-cheloveka.

    Google Scholar 

  13. Satish, U., Mendell, M.J., Shekhar, K., Hotchi, T., Sullivan, D., Streufert, S., and Fisk, W.J., Is CO2 an indoor pollutant? Direct effects of low-to-moderate CO2 concentrations on human decision-making performance, Environ. Health Perspect., 2012, vol. 120, no. 12, pp. 1671–1677. doi 10.1289/ehp.1104789

    Google Scholar 

  14. Shendell, D.G., Prill, R., Fisk, W.J., Apte, M.G., Blake, D., and Faulkner, D., Associations between classroom CO2 concentrations and student attendance in Washington and Idaho, Indoor Air, 2004, vol. 14, no. 5, pp. 333–341. http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/j.1600-0668.2004.00251.x/abstract?deniedAccessCustomisedMessage=&userIsAuthenticated=false.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  15. Shil’krot, E.O. and Gubernskii, Yu.D., What amount of air is needed for a comfortable life, ABOK, 2008, no. 4. http://www.abok.ru/for_spec/articles.php?nid=3996.

    Google Scholar 

  16. Tiunov, L.A. and Kustov, V.V., Toksikologiya okisi ugleroda (Toxicology of Carbon Monoxide), Moscow: Meditsina, 1980.

    Google Scholar 

Download references

Author information



Corresponding author

Correspondence to D. I. Sidorin.

Additional information

Original Russian Text © D.I. Sidorin, 2015, published in Geofizicheskie Protsessy i Biosfera, 2015, Vol. 14, No. 2, pp. 67–80.

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Verify currency and authenticity via CrossMark

Cite this article

Sidorin, D.I. Dynamics of carbon dioxide concentrations in the air and its effect on the cognitive ability of school students. Izv. Atmos. Ocean. Phys. 51, 871–879 (2015). https://doi.org/10.1134/S000143381508006X

Download citation


  • carbon dioxide
  • school
  • monitoring
  • impact on humans
  • cognitive activity of students