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Air that is Far From Fair

20 November 2015 | Updated 01 January 1970

Recent US studies have found that the indoor air quality in offices can be two to five times worse than the air outside.

The findings come from work led by Joseph Allen, Assistant Professor of Exposure Assessment Science and Director of the Healthy Buildings Program at the Harvard Center for Health and the Global Environment investigating indoor air quality (IAQ).

“We spend 90% of our time indoors and 90% of the cost of a building are the occupants, yet indoor environmental quality and its impact on health and productivity are often an afterthought,” he observed.

IAQ can be worse than outdoor air quality due to the many sources of pollution within buildings. The most common forms of include:

  • Fine combustion particles from traffic and power stations (PM2.5).

  • Volcanic dust.

  • Bio-aerosols and pathogens, e.g. pollen, bacteria, viruses and fungal spores; environmental tobacco smoke (ETS).

  • Asbestos and silica dust.

  • Molecular pollutants such as gases and vapours include carbon monoxide, oxides of nitrogen (NOx) and sulphur, ozone, radon and volatile organic compounds (VOCs).

A US study published in Environmental Health Perspectives last month found that people who work in well ventilated offices with below average levels of indoor pollutants and carbon dioxide (CO2) have significantly higher cognitive functioning scores in crucial areas such as responding to a crisis or developing strategy than those who work in offices with typical levels.

The findings suggest that the indoor environments in which many people work daily could be adversely affecting cognitive function and that, conversely, improved air quality could greatly increase the cognitive function performance of workers.

The US conclusions gave further credence to work already published earlier this year in a report from the World Green Building Council that found ‘overwhelming’ evidence of IAQ and its impact on the health, wellbeing and productivity of staff.

One specialist in the UK is currently offering an IAQ particle analysis in Workplaces. Camfil is currently advising advise on the concentrations of any airborne contaminants combined with a demonstration of its mobile air cleaners.

For further information, Click Here

Picture: Poor indoor air quality in the workplace can have adverse impacts on staff performance.


Article written by Cathryn Ellis | Published 20 November 2015


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