I-Team: Las Vegas company promotes technology that could help detect COVID-19 in air we exhale

I-Team Special Reports

Carbon-dioxide monitoring good indicator of risk, study says

LAS VEGAS (KLAS) — What we exhale may help detect our risk of getting coronavirus.

Las Vegas-based CO2 Monitoring makes detectors for large-scale carbon dioxide systems you might find at a restaurant or casino. But the technology can be scaled down to monitor the presence of the gas in the air, which can be a good indicator for poor ventilation, CO2 Monitoring’s president Ronald Longely said.

“You can’t see it, can’t smell it, can’t hear it,” Longley said about gas, which humans exhale as part of respiration.

His company, which employs about two dozen people, manufactures systems to detect a carbon dioxide leak. He started the business at his kitchen table when, as a building contractor, he found there was no system to meet new building codes.

If you look in the back room of a bar or restaurant that carbonates beverages, you will likely find a large tank full of liquid carbon dioxide. Longley’s systems detect the presence of a potential leak, which can be fatal.

Now with coronavirus, measuring carbon dioxide and the sensors Longley’s team builds may serve a new function.

“It’s the canary in the coal mine,” he described, but these coal mines are everyday places like schools, gyms, casinos and your home.

“Airborne viruses like COVID are spread through respiration.” Longley explained. “We obviously can’t stop respiration, but what we can do is measure its effects.”

Empty tanks that hold liquid carbon-dioxide. (KLAS)

A University of Colorado-Boulder study supports that finding carbon dioxide in the air “holds promise” for monitoring the risk for coronavirus and other diseases we can get and spread through the air. That is because a buildup of carbon dioxide is a good indicator for stagnant, unventilated air, the study said.

The more stagnant the air, the higher risk of getting an airborne disease, like COVID-19.

A close-up of a screen on one of CO2 Monitoring’s sensors showing parts-per-million of carbon-dioxide in the air. (KLAS)

“For the cost of a small monitoring system, a fan and opening the door, you can seriously limit the potential of contracting a virus like COVID,” Longley said.

California recently passed a law requiring carbon dioxide monitors in every classroom statewide. Longley hopes to test the technology in Nevada schools, soon.

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