CO2 on a plane and in a taxi and an Uber and a concert


I changed jobs in December to something where I travel a few times a year.

(And I work hard at interesting work, people are marvellously collaborative, I feel like I am working toward something meaningful… AND I get paid far more per *actual* hour worked than in academia. No more evening teaching or marking ever!!)

Preparing for my first trip interstate, I bought a CO2 meter to read air quality in different spaces. As far as I know, I have not had COVID. I want a firmer idea of when to mask up. Currently, it’s “see lots of people, especially indoors, mask up”.

An article about The COVID-safe strategies Australian scientists are using to protect themselves from ‘ the virus nudged me toward buying an Aranet4, although it had been in the back of my mind for a few years.

A small CO2 meter on a bedside table

Where there are more parts per million of CO2, there are more ppm of other airborne components, including viruses. If the air quality is clean, the meter obviously does not tell you whether you are actually sitting between two people who are actively infectious.

Here are annotated readings from a day of travel. Apart from seeing I had a very full day (which also included 2 hours test-riding a couple of e-bikes), there were a couple of surprises. Airports and aeroplanes good places to mask up? No surprise.

A couple of places, where I had thought masking was crucial, I could maybe be more relaxed. A concert hall with around 900 people? Just fine inside, although masking up in the lobby is a good idea. I previously felt nervous at theatrical events, so that was quite nice to find out.

My biggest surprise was the readings of the taxi compared to the Uber. The taxi from the airport had a driver who was masking, as was I, and who kept the windows open, unasked. The air stayed clean. In the Uber, which had another passenger plus driver the air quality spiked to a concerning level. The three of us were unmasked and the air conditioning was on. I opened a window a little. I was tired and just forgot to mask. It’s not a situation on my radar as an issue.

So – yesterday I learned I can still mask at concerts, but can be more relaxed about the air quality… and that masking up in air conditioned cars is a very good idea. And – choose taxis with their windows open. Good to know.

4 thoughts on “CO2 on a plane and in a taxi and an Uber and a concert

  1. Good good! I was going to buy a CO2 thingy for our current trip, but decided to just mask up in the situations you’ve described. Good to have your confirmation!! What’s the new job? Sounds exciting. p.s. we’re enjoying summer in New Zealand!

    1. Interestingly, I just saw Amanda Palmer last night and she talked about her experiences being someone from the US summering in the Souther Hemisphere… and then adventures in New Zealand over the last two years.

      I am with the Australian Research Data Commons as … wait for it… and then try to explain it at parties… Skills Development Lead (HASS and Indigenous). I’m in Melbourne because my first job was to finish off organising this (with an amazing group of extremely competent and helpful co-workers): HASS and Indigenous Research Data Commons Computational Skills Summer School 2024 …

  2. Wow, a non-blogjune post! 🙂 (I’ve been idly pondering blogging more too)
    Thanks for the info re the C02 meter, by the way. I read up on them a few months back and then got distracted and didn’t follow up. The measurements in airports and planes are very interesting and confirm my admittedly non-scientific observations and my preference to mask up in airports and planes. Thankfully these days I’m not really travelling so it’s not much of an issue.

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