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Better decisions from better air
In the 1700s, Benjamin Franklin professed, "I am persuaded that no common air from outside is so unwholesome as the air inside a closed room that has been often breathed and not changed."
He appears to have been more than 250 years ahead of his time when it comes to poor indoor air quality, since this argument has been proven once again in a study conducted by researchers at Harvard and Syracuse Universities.
In this study, the researchers enrolled 24 'knowledge workers - people who were corporate managers, architects, and designers. The workers spent six days in a controlled work environment, working from 9 09:00 - 17:00 each day. During this time, the indoor air quality conditions fluctuated without their knowledge, shifting from:
- An optimised environment, where ventilation was increased; chemicals and products - including cleaning products - which released volatile organic compounds, were minimised or eliminated; and carbon dioxide levels in the air were reduced.
- The other work environment was a more conventional setting which met minimally accepted IAQ standards.
Each day, the participants took tests measuring their cognitive functions. "We saw higher test scores across nine cognitive function domains when workers were exposed to increased ventilation rates, lower levels of chemicals, and lower carbon dioxide," divulged the researchers, who went on to report:
"The results showed the biggest improvements in areas that tested how workers used the information to make strategic decisions and how they plan, stay prepared, and strategise during crises. These are exactly the skills needed to be productive in the knowledge economy."
The researchers then conducted a second test involving 100 knowledge workers - this one to evaluate the influence of using green-certified cleaning solutions, which are designed to protect IAQ.
"We found that workers in buildings that used green certified [cleaning solutions] scored higher on the tests," the scientists reported.
Says Mike Watt, Avmor's director of training: "The takeaway is simple. Better indoor air quality results in better performance, something the professional cleaning industry has known for years."
The study was headed by Joseph G. Allen, an assistant professor, and director of the Healthy Buildings program at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health
24th May 2018