Reducing VOCs and carbon dioxide can impact decision-making in the office according to a Harvard study.
In a paper published in the journal Environmental Health Perspectives, researchers found that people working in buildings with below-average indoor air pollution and carbon dioxide showed better cognitive functioning than workers in offices with typical VOC and CO2 levels.
The study followed 24 participants who worked full work-days in environmentally controlled and monitored offices spaces, blinded to test conditions. On different days, they were exposed to different levels of volatile organic compounds and carbon dioxide. The days with low levels of VOCs were rated as “Green”, while the days with lower levels of CO2 were rated as “Green+”.
The researchers found that cognitive function scores as measured by standardized testing were significantly better in Green+ building conditions compared to the conventional building conditions for all nine cognitive functional tests they repeatedly gave to the participants over the course of a week.
According to the study:
“These findings have wide ranging implications because this study was designed to reflect conditions that are commonly encountered every day in many indoor environments.”
The authors went on to recommend that, “These exposures should be investigated in other indoor environments, such as homes, schools and airplanes, where decrements in cognitive function and decision-making could have significant impacts on productivity, learning and safety.”