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Study shows the benefits of good indoor air quality!

Posted by Peter Haugen on Fri, Dec 04, 2015 @ 11:23 AM

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According to a new study, people who work in well ventilated offices with below average levels of indoor pollutants and carbon dioxide have significantly higher cognitive functioning (ability to think) scores. The researchers looked at people’s experiences in a “green” verses “non-green” buildings in a double-blind study. The findings suggested that indoor environments can adversely affect cognitive functions and conversely, improved indoor air quality could greatly increase the cognitive function performance of workers. 

The Study

Researchers wanted to look at the impact of ventilation, chemicals and carbon dioxide on workers cognitive function because as buildings have become more energy efficient, they have also become more airtight, increasing the potential for poor indoor environmental quality. In the study, the researchers looked at the decision-making performance of 24 participants while they worked in a controlled office environment. For six days, while the participants performed their normal work, the researchers exposed them to various simulated building conditions:

        • Conventional conditions with relatively high concentrations of volatile organic compounds (VOC’s) from common materials in offices.
        • Green conditions with low VOC concentrations.
        • Green plus conditions with low VOC’s and enhanced ventilation.
        • Conditions with artificially elevated levels of carbon dioxide, independent of ventilation.
        • At the end of each day, they conducted cognitive testing on the participants.

The Results

They found that the cognitive performance scores:
  • For participants in the “green plus” environments were on average double those of participants in the “conventional” environments.
  • For participants in the working in the “green” environments were 61% higher than those in the “conventional” environment.
  • For seven of the nine cognitive functions tested, average scores decreased as carbon dioxide levels increased.
This study was published on October 26, 2015 in Environmental Health Perspectives journals. You can download a PDF copy of the complete study at:
http://ehp.niehs.nih.gov/wp-content/uploads/advpub/2015/10/ehp.1510037.acco.pdf
 

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