Physiological and psychological effects associated with high carbon dioxide levels in healthy men

Carl M. Maresh, Lawrence E. Armstrong, Stavros A. Kavouras, George J. Allen, Douglas J. Casa, Michael Whittlesey, Kent E. LaGasse

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

21 Scopus citations


Background: Perception of CO2 in ambient air may be of fundamental importance to the health, safety, and job performance of persons occupationally exposed to increased levels of CO2. Few studies have examined the perceptual responses to inhaled CO2 at levels between 6-10%. Hypothesis:We hypothesized that healthy, highly-active men would be able to determine the difference between 6% and 8% CO2 concentrations. Methods: Thirty-two male students (21 ± 1 yr) served as subjects. Experimental trials (counterbalanced design) included breathing air (control, 21% O2, 79% N2), 6% CO2 (21% O2, 73% N2), and 8% CO2, (21%, O2, 71% N2) conditions. The Body Sensations Questionnaire (BSQ) was completed twice during each trial. Results: End tidal CO2 (FETCO2) and BSQ values increased (p < 0.05) as a function of the percentage of inhaled CO2. Respiratory rates during the 8% trial were greater (p < 0.05) than control and 6% CO2 trial measures. BSQ scores were significantly correlated with FETCO2 and respiratory rate measures during the 6% and 8% CO2 conditions. Conclusions: We conclude that these subjects recognized their exposure to both the 6% and 8% CO2 concentrations, and their responses were more profound during the 8% CO2 condition.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)41-45
Number of pages5
JournalAviation Space and Environmental Medicine
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1 1997
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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