How much does indoor air pollution affect your brain functions? More than you would think.
Most people living in industrialized countries spend a lot of time indoors; whether we are at home, at school or at the office, we spent 92% of our life indoors. According to a study conducted by a research group from Harvard School of Public Health and published on the journal Environmental Health Perspective, all the time we spend indoors could have a negative impact on our cognitive functions.
The study evidences how the levels of pollutants such as carbon dioxide and volatile organic compounds that we find in closed environments can have a negative influence on the decision-making abilities of the people spending time in those environments; this is the first study that doesn’t focus on only one pollutant but analyzes the effect of the exposure to several different compounds: particularly, the substances that were analyzed were the volatile organics compounds released in the environment by the plastic and paper materials that we commonly find in all homes and offices. Another perspective examined by the study is the bad ventilation that is commonly found in today’s buildings; since the 1970’s, the rising costs of energy have led to the construction of buildings with a slower rate of dissipation of heat, which usually means reducing drafts and thus reducing the exchange of air with the outside.
There were 24 participants in the study, which lasted 6 days; the subjects spend 8 hours every day in a controlled environment, devised to be as similar as possible to an office’s environmental conditions. Particularly, there were three simulated environments: the first one was a “conventional” one, representative of most offices in the western world, then there was a “Green” environment representing an office built with ecological features and a lower concentrations of volatile organic compounds, and finally a “Green+” ( equivalent to a Pure Air Zone environment) environment which was similar to the Green one but with a higher ventilation. The study tried to recreated in the most precise way the conditions that workers normally encounter during the day: the participants just carried on with their normal work, so that the results of the study were as accurate as possible.
At the end of every day, all the subjects were given a test in order to measure nine cognitive functions: basic, applied and focused activity levels; task orientation; crisis response; information seeking; information usage; breadth of approach and strategy. The results of the test evidenced a striking difference between the subjects that had spent their day in the conventional office and the ones that had been in the Green or Green+ office; particularly, the subjects in the latter groups scored respectively 61% and 101% higher than the subjects that had spent their day in the conventional office. The test areas with the more significant results were crisis response, information usage and strategy: in these area the subjects in the Green environment scored respectively 97%, 172% and 183% higher than the ones in the conventional office, while the subjects who had been in the Green+ Pure Air Zone environment scored even higher, respectively 131%, 299% and 288% higher than the group who had been in the conventional office.
What appears evident is the fact that this isn’t a purely environmental problem, but also an economic one: an office built with state-of-the-art ecological features doesn’t only consume less energy, but it can also enhance the workers’ productivity, thus benefiting both the workers and the company.
Today , through U-earth biotechnology, it is an affordable investment – also if we are talking about older buildings – and the economic return can make it worth it: it suffices to say that, once a building is completed, 90% of the costs related to the company are related to its employees. Another aspect, that wasn’t analyzed in this study but that was already known, is linked to the so called “sick building syndrome”: this is a term coined by the WHO in 1986 to describe the health effects that are present in workers who spend a lot of time in the office, but that can’t be attributed to a specific disease.
Of course, changing office buildings will not be enough: indoors air pollution is a problem to which children are particularly vulnerable, and besides, children go to school every day just like adults go to the office every day. Therefore it is necessary to make an effort and build new “Green” Pure Air Zone schools, keeping in mind that no closed environment, as green as it can be, can actually compete with the outdoors: whether we are adults or children, we should all make an effort and spend more time outdoors, in order to protect our body and our brain.
Learn how you can create your personal Pure Air Zone on www.pure-air-zone.com.