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KHashmi317

This Is Your Brain On Stale Air

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This Is Your Brain On Stale Air

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1Nh_vxpycEA

Inside his homemade, hermetically-sealed, airtight biodome, Kurtis Baute is already out of breath and surrounded by more carbon dioxide than he should be. And that's going to affect a lot of things -- including how smart he is.

SOURCES:
CO2 and Cognitive Function Scores: https://ehp.niehs.nih.gov/doi/pdf/10....
Indoor Air Quality and Academic Performance: https://www.gwern.net/docs/co2/2015-s...

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Thanks for this Khasami! I will begin an experiment based on this. I spend a lot of time in a closed room that is about 12x16. I am going to start opening the window to see if I notice any difference. I usually air out my bedroom before bedtime, but this room never.

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I think a CO2 meter (air quality meter) may not be a bad investment for the house or office. 

Another CO2 issue may involve mask use: pandemic, medical,  dust, anti-pollution (bike mask), etc. My Respro Techno  has a check-valve that closes for inhale and opens for exhale. Still, there is tiny cavity inside the mask that may trap some exhaled air. I think the video raised issues about use of motorcycle helmets.I can only guess at what a welder's hood may trap.

All that said, I've been using the Respro mask for over 11 years w/o any noticeable "brain farts" or poor "thinking"  .

techno-mask-black-2__zoom.jpg

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What is the role of CO2 here? The first paper mentions CO2, but also many other factors including indoor air pollution, so we don't know to what degree - IF ANY - the lower performance is due to CO2, rather than those other factors. 

And on the topic of CO2, assuming CO2 inhibits intellectual performance, what is the exact mechanism of action here? Is it the harmful effect of CO2 down to less oxygen available? If it is a question of *just* oxygen, then how is this different from less oxygen available in higher altitudes? Higher altitudes with less oxygen do impair performance - for example athletic performance - but that only happens to the unadapted. Once you adapt to less oxygen at higher altitudes, you are fine - up to a point. We do know that for some, there is a limit to that adaptation - when climbing f.ex. Mount Everest, the base camps are stratified by elevation, and a certain amount of time is spent at each elevation to adapt, but some folks just cannot get beyond a certain elevation. In any case, for others, high elevation adaptation is a competitive advantage and athletes often train at high altitudes, so that when they then compete in lower altitudes they have an advantage.

Now, taking the mask example Khurram just discussed. I had very similar thoughts when jogging with the mask - I wondered if a fraction of my exhalation was being trapped or not completely expelled and therefore upon inhalation I was taking in a mixture of fresh air and a fraction of my preceding exhalation. This would obviously mean that I am breathing in more CO2 than without the mask. But I then thought to myself that perhaps this might be a situation with a silver lining, and far from a disadvantage, it would be an advantage in exercise as it would mimic higher elevation training - the CO2 effectively lowering my intake of oxygen and forcing me to adapt similar to athletes training in high elevation camps. 

But if indeed the effect of small amounts of CO2 is to mimic high altitude oxygen depletion, then *once you have adapted* shouldn't this "disadvantage" disappear, or even turn into an advantage?

Bottom line, I think we need more clarity on which are the deleterious elements of "stale air" (indoor pollutants) and we need to disentangle the role of CO2. Of course, if the role of CO2 goes beyond just mild hypoxia, then it's a different ball of wax.  

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2 hours ago, TomBAvoider said:

... Bottom line, I think we need more clarity on which are the deleterious elements of "stale air" (indoor pollutants) and we need to disentangle the role of CO2. Of course, if the role of CO2 goes beyond just mild hypoxia, then it's a different ball of wax.  

This sounds about right.  Under normal conditions, CO2 poisoning is extremely unlikely, unless you are a diver, or wrap a plastic bag around your head (CO poisoning from combustion within the home is entirely another matter).

Indoor air pollution in the average home is rarely an issue. In some areas of the US, radon can be an issue if a house is too well insulated, but even that's rare.

I'd chalk this as a non-issue.

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