The celebration of affection that is in February usually causes large gatherings of couples, friends, and romance seekers to congregate in cozy cafes, rated restaurants, and other attractive locations. Unfortunately, these buildups can cause indoor air quality to decline rapidly.
Now, while sayings about “taking someone’s breath away” are presented as a good thing, it might be smarter to ensure there’s plenty of air around. Romance, just like fire, requires a significant amount of oxygen.
So, consider doing a bit of research and/or monitoring this Valentine’s Day. It’ll be a big help in scouting out good locations.
Why bother measuring air quality?
Well, because there might be something more than love in the air – especially in crowded rooms. CO2 is a basic indicator of a facility’s ability to ventilate their premises. When carbon dioxide levels increase, it means that people are rebreathing the same air as others around them. This increases the likelihood of spreading airborne viruses, like the flu, common cold. etc.1
There are few things that can ruin a well-planned moment of passion like indoor air pollution, stuffiness, and potential sickness. For a lower CO2 count, try to choose less-populated locations, well-ventilated spots, or even outdoor activities.
How to measure air quality
While it’s possible that certain restaurants, bars, clubs, etc., have publicly accessible metrics on air quality, most do not. Therefore, the burden falls on individuals to gauge the local ambiance relative to their personal preferences.
Therefore, the best option could be to bring a portable air monitor along – we recommend trying out the Aranet4. It is a wireless air-quality device that provides regular updates on metrics like CO2, temperature, and humidity. And for anyone nervous about whipping out a massive, clunky device in the middle of a restaurant, don’t worry. The Aranet4 is smaller than a deck of cards; easily concealable within a purse or pocket.
Understanding CO2 levels
The large number in the middle of an Aranet4’s view screen is the ambient carbon dioxide parts per million. This correlates to the green (800 and below), yellow (800-1500), and red (1500+) markings just below the number.
Generally speaking, levels above 800 ppm start to become detrimental to the human experience. Higher CO2 concentrations contribute toward people experiencing drowsiness, throat irritation, headaches, dizziness, and decreased cognitive abilities.2
Traveling with an air monitor
The Aranet team recently took an in-depth look at Aranet4 measurements throughout the city of Riga. In their documented travels, they showed how different features (like high ceilings, candles, population count, cleanliness, ventilation, etc.) dramatically influenced their Aranet4 readings.
Small changes can add up to a big difference in overall air quality and human comfort. But overall, the first step toward progress is measurement.
Factors that influence indoor air quality
While it’s impossible to control or influence every variable, it’s worth looking at certain factors when choosing an area for a romantic night out.
Windows: When it comes to crowded areas, open windows are usually better than closed. Now, in certain areas, the waiting staff can’t be bothered to adjust the air flow. However, it may be worth asking, especially if levels are getting high.
- Timing: There may be ideal time slots to visit certain locations. This bit of planning can help both to avoid rebreathed air and take advantage of time-sensitive deals. Avoid the rush, save time, and spend a few more moments with significant others rather than waiting around during peak hours.
- Kitchens: Cooking and preparing food generates a lot of CO2. If you’re located near a kitchen and there’s a lot of activity nearby, it might be worth requesting another seat closer to windows or doors.
- Occupancy: As more and more people enter an enclosed, or poorly ventilated space, they will gradually use up the available oxygen. Additionally, greater numbers might slow service, unless the place is exceptionally managed and staffed.
- Cleanliness: If a venue seems to be dirty, that spot may be better left for later – after a good cleaning. The accumulation of dust, dander, and other natural byproducts of life make a big impact on human respiration and can put a damper on an evening out.
- Open flames: While candles, fireplaces, and torches can be very romantic, they also use up oxygen rather quickly. Furthermore, these features can release smoke and other pollutants that reduce indoor air quality.
- Health: If you’re not feeling well, it may be a better idea to stay home rather than going into a crowded area.
Please remember, Valentine’s Day often has a higher nightly turn out than a “regular” evening. So, while having an Aranet4 along to monitor conditions is a good idea, it might be better, if possible, to stick to areas a bit further off the beaten path.
- Carbon dioxide, COVID-19 and the importance of restaurant ventilation: a case study from Spain approaching Christmas 2021, https://digital.csic.es/bitstream/10261/256608/1/Carbon%20dioxide%2C%20COVID-19%20and%20the%20importance%20of%20restaurant%20ventilation.pdf
- The impact of green buildings on cognitive function, https://green.harvard.edu/tools-resources/research-highlight/impact-green-buildings-cognitive-function