Healthy Indoors



Air quality affects your productivity

Have you ever felt a sense of fatigue overcome you at work, though your work on that day is by no means strenuous? There are many studies that show that poor air quality can affect your performance levels, not just physical performance, but also your cognitive and decision-making abilities, as well.

Air quality affects your productivity

When it comes to the effect on the human body there are certain symptoms that indicate that the air may have a high particulate content and contain substances harmful to our health. Symptoms we should take seriously include sore or itchy eyes, problems wearing contact lenses, runny nose, irritated throat, headaches, tiredness and asthma-like reactions. It is important to realize different people have different levels of sensitivity to poor air. We do not all react the same to indoor air quality and sometimes symptoms may not appear until long after unhealthy environments have affected our health.

Scientists have linked exposure to fine particles to the following:

  • Cardiovascular disease

  • Reproductive problems

  • Impaired immune system

  • Premature death

  • Cancer

  • Diabetes

  • Asthma

  • Alzheimer’s

Addressing the problem on the macro and micro levels

The quality of outside air significantly impacts the quality of air we breathe indoors. As you can imagine, filtration levels need to proportionately match the extent and character of outdoor air pollution, in order to effectively protect the health of people indoors. A study published in 2016 by the University of British Columbia, Vancouver, Canada claimed 5.5 million people die prematurely every year because of air pollution.

However, this figure does not account for all the days, weeks and months of our lives that are lost due to illnesses caused by air pollution. Since we spend up to 90% of our lives indoors and, in some cases, 22% of the week in offices, it is necessary that our indoor spaces are clean, healthy indoor environments.

Potential for increased productivity

It doesn’t take much thinking to realize that whether illness or just symptoms, like headaches, fatigue, bothersome eyes, etc., productivity takes a beating when air is of poor quality in indoor spaces. A study performed in Australia found that improving indoor air quality reduced the sick leave rate by 39%, saving 44% on costs.

And a preliminary study performed in 2006 by RJ Shaughnessey on the association between ventilation rates in classrooms and student performance assessed schoolchildren benefit from better indoor air quality, scoring 13% better on reading tests.

A Harvard study tested cognitive performance in green buildings, examining 3 different environments: those with poor air quality, good air quality and excellent air quality. These tests found employees in spaces with good air quality outperformed their peers in spaces with lower air quality by 61%. Where air quality was excellent, people outperformed their peers in the poorest air quality environment by 100%. Based on these findings, we can conclude that improved air quality doesn’t just significantly boost productivity in industrial production facilities, but also has a drastic effect on commercial and office environments where key strategic decisions are made.