New findings coming out of Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health point to the fact that the air quality within an office can have significant impacts on employees’ cognitive function, including response times and ability to focus, and it may also affect their productivity.
In the year-long study that included participants in offices across six countries working in a variety of fields, including engineering, real estate investment, architecture, and technology, scientists found that increased concentrations of fine particulate matter (PM2.5) and lower ventilation rates (measured using carbon dioxide (CO2) levels as a proxy) were associated with slower response times and reduced accuracy on a series of cognitive tests. The researchers noted that they observed impaired cognitive function at concentrations of PM2.5 and CO2 that are common within indoor environments.
“Our study adds to the emerging evidence that air pollution has an impact on our brain. The findings show that increases in PM2.5 levels were associated with acute reductions in cognitive function. It’s the first time we’ve seen these short-term effects among younger adults. The study also confirmed how low ventilation rates negatively impact cognitive function. Overall, the study suggests that poor indoor air quality affects health and productivity significantly more than we previously understood.”Brain functioning, productivity adversely affected by office air pollutants – Chemical Free Life