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How Indoor Air Quality Can Impact Your Productivity

Indoor Air Quality When first hearing it, you may think that indoor air quality is more of an advertising gimmick than a genuine concern. Or you may think it’s something that happens in some more hazardous areas, not your home, so there is no need to call air quality specialists now. However, there have been […]

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Indoor Air Quality

When first hearing it, you may think that indoor air quality is more of an advertising gimmick than a genuine concern. Or you may think it’s something that happens in some more hazardous areas, not your home, so there is no need to call air quality specialists now. However, there have been official studies conducted by universities and health organizations show that it is a pressing matter indeed.

After all, isn’t the air we breathe the most important thing for sustaining life? But, what studies have shown is that the quality of the air we breathe greatly affects the quality of our life, our thinking, performance, and our bodily functions.

Anyone who goes mountain hiking or camping in the woods will tell you how their thinking and mood immediately improves when they get the first whip of that fresh natural air, free from various pollutants we live with and ignore daily. But, those pollutants are not just outside in the streets, they are inside of our homes.

Indoor Air Quality and Productivity Correlation Research

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, which is a scientific agency working within the United States Department of Commerce, estimates a loss of around $150 billion in various costs annually.  This is for the U.S alone as a result of illness and reduced productivity due to poor indoor air quality.

To make the figures clearer, the same research states that around $93B of that $150B is a loss due to headaches, irritation, fatigue, and similar conditions all coming from what is called the “sick building syndrome”.

The Environmental Protection Agency, which is an independent agency inside the US’ federal government, found that airborne pollutants indoors are, on average, 2 to 5 times higher in concentration than outdoor pollutants. Their studies have shown around 11% increase in workplace productivity after the indoor air was cleared properly.

Another study, this time from the Harvard School of Public Health conducted in 2015, has yielded even more staggering data. It was what is called a “double-blind study”, meaning no information was revealed that could influence the participants until after the study was complete.

They have observed people working in offices with good ventilation and low air pollutant levels and determined that their cognitive functions are twice as higher than in workers who are working in offices with only average levels of those same pollutants.

A Gas Leak In California

There is a documented study from 2015, conducted in Porter Ranch, California after a gas-leak alarm was raised in that area. All schools in a five-mile radius installed air filtration systems in all classrooms and offices after that.

The study used the schools’ standard academic testing information from before the event for the baseline of the experiment. After the new air filtration, the students’ scores significantly improved in that five-mile area. Areas beyond this, that did not change air quality, saw no improvement or any change in this regard.

Worth Its Weight in Fruit

There was another study that focused on fruit pickers in California. It was conducted by the University of California at San Diego, the University of Southern California, and Columbia University. The daily salaries of the fruit pickers were directly determined by how much fruit they picked on that day.

The study compared their daily score with the air quality measures and it was found that they picked, and subsequently earned, significantly less on days when ground-level ozone readings were at the highest. The worse the air got, the less they earned.

Of course, fruits are generally picked outdoors, or at least in glass gardens, but this only supplements the indoor air quality argument. This is because the indoor air is more susceptible to getting polluted because inside of a building there is no wind, drafts, and similar natural air cleansers.

How To Improve Air Quality and Comfort Now?

When talking about air comfort, we are talking about several factors that include:

●   Temperature

●   Humidity

●   Air Movement

Not much we could say about air temperature that isn’t common knowledge. Cold is bad, too warm is also not good. But, thermal discomfort is the #1 complaint in office workplaces and this is because they accommodate larger groups of people, all with different temperature preferences.

One could never satisfy personal, specific, off-normal temperature preferences for each person in a group of people. But, companies can make an effort to meet certified air standards easily available and reachable with the help of several things, like the IAQ (Indoor Air Quality) Monitor, Air Purifiers, personal fans, and similar stuff.

Designing for Clean and Comfortable Air

However, if one would really like to improve air quality in a home or a workplace, one should start thinking about this before the build or during renovations. Many ventilation systems that can solve this problem for good, and they include:

●   Call Air Quality Specialist

●   100% outside-air systems

●   Underfloor air distribution systems

●   Displacement ventilation

●   Green Rating Systems (LEED, WELL, etc…)

●   Demand-control ventilation (DCV)

If we are talking about extreme climate areas, extremely hot or cold, naturally more complex solutions must be utilized. In these cases, it is recommended to separate the outside air supply system from the cooling or heating systems.

This must be done to conserve the energy needed to maintain the temperature, while still ensuring 100% or the outside air capacity needed for a healthy indoor environment.

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