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Carbon Dioxide - Our Common "Enemy"Health effects of brief and prolonged exposure to carbon dioxide continue to be a concern for those of us who manage this pollutant in closed volumes, such as in spacecraft and submarines. In both examples, considerable resources are required to scrub the atmosphere to levels that are considered totally safe for maintenance of crew health and performance. Defining safe levels is not a simple task because of many confounding factors, including: lack of a robust database on human exposures, suspected significant variations in individual susceptibility, variations in the endpoints used to assess potentially adverse effects, the added effects of stress, and the fluid shifts associated with micro-gravity (astronauts only). In 2007 the National Research Council proposed revised Continuous Exposure Guidelines (CEGLs) and Emergency Exposure Guidelines (EEGLs) to the U.S. Navy. Similarly, in 2008 the NASA Toxicology Group, in cooperation with another subcommittee of the National Research Council, revised Spacecraft Maximum Allowable Concentrations (SMACs). In addition, a 1000-day exposure limit was set for long-duration spaceflights to celestial bodies. Herein we examine the rationale for the levels proposed to the U.S. Navy and compare this rationale with the one used by NASA to set its limits. We include a critical review of previous studies on the effects of exposure to carbon dioxide and attempt to dissect out the challenges associated with setting fully-defensible limits. We also describe recent experiences with management of carbon dioxide aboard the International Space Station with 13 persons aboard. This includes the tandem operations of the Russian Vozduk and the U.S. Carbon Dioxide Removal System. A third removal system is present while the station is docked to the Shuttle spacecraft, so our experience includes the lithium hydroxide system aboard Shuttle for the removal of carbon dioxide. We discuss strategies for highly-efficient, regenerable removal of carbon dioxide that could meet the 1000-day SMAC of 0.5%, which would apply to long-duration voyages to Mars.
Document ID
Acquisition Source
Johnson Space Center
Document Type
Conference Paper
James, John T.
(NASA Johnson Space Center Houston, TX, United States)
Macatangay, Ariel
(Wyle Labs., Inc. Houston, TX, United States)
Date Acquired
August 24, 2013
Publication Date
January 1, 2009
Subject Category
Aerospace Medicine
Report/Patent Number
Meeting Information
Meeting: SAMAP Submarine Air Monitoring Air Purification Conference
Location: San Diego, CA
Country: United States
Start Date: October 19, 2009
End Date: October 22, 2009
Sponsors: Molecular Products, Inc.
Distribution Limits
Public Use Permitted.
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