Effects of Carbon Dioxide Inhalation on Psychomotor and Mental Performance During Exercise and Recovery

Vercruyssen, M., Kamon, E., & Hancock, P.A. (2007). Effects of carbon dioxide inhalation on psychomotor and mental performance during exercise and recovery. International Journal of Occupational Safety and Ergonomics, 13(1), 15-27.

On separate days, 6 highly trained participants performed psychomotor tests while breathing for 60 min 3 carbon dioxide (CO2) mixtures (room air, 3% CO2, or 4% CO2) prior to, between, and following two 15-min treadmill exercise bouts (70% VO2max). Each individual was extensively practiced (at least 4 days) before testing began, and both gas conditions and order of tasks were counterbalanced. Results showed physiological reactions and work-related psychomotor effects, but no effects of gas concentration on addition, multiplication, grammatical reasoning or dynamic postural balance. These findings help define behavioral toxicity levels and support a re-evaluation of existing standards for the maximum allowable concentration (also emergency and continuous exposure guidance levels) of CO2. This research explored the selection of psychometric instruments of sufficient sensitivity and reliability to detect subtle changes in performance caused by exposure to low levels of environmental stress, in this case differential levels of CO2 in the inspired air.

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