Prevention & Recovery

Is your office air affecting your brain?

By: Tralee Pearce

Getty Images Author: Canadian Living Credits: Getty Images

Prevention & Recovery

Is your office air affecting your brain?

By: Tralee Pearce

You know those days when you complain that there must be something in the air at work? Either you feel sleepy or like you're a step behind your usual self. Well, a new study is proving you right. Researchers have found that conventional office air is linked with much lower cognitive function than the air found in offices built to meet "green" standards. In other words, the decision-making, crisis management and strategizing we're doing at work may be negatively impacted by the workplace itself.

Researchers at Syracuse University simulated office conditions by varying air quality with substances such as volatile organic compunds (VOCs) and carbon dioxide. Overall, scores on brain function tests were found to be 101 percent higher in green office environments that met Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) standands and allowed in outdoor air when compared to conventional office environments.

Even in offices that met LEED standards but didn't have the added ventilation, test results were 61 percent higher than in conventional offices. 

What can you do?
In the home, we know updated furnace filters and potted plants can help improve the air. But if you’re not in charge of air quality at work, where to start?

If you can, open a window to give your brain a boost of fresh air. Some buildings don't allow you to open windows. In that case, speak to your health and safety committee to find out if any measures are already in place to improve indoor air quality, such as seeking out low-VOC paints and carpeting or upgrading ventilation systems. It doesn't hurt to mention that improving air quality may improve your productivity.

Air quality checks may not be routine in your office building, but if you have concerns, it might be worth asking for one. Your health—and the health of the company—is a serious matter. (Workplace safety is a provincial concern; here's a look at British Columbia's regulations.)

Your work isn't the only thing impact by air quality. Learn how air pollution can affect heart health and how to reduce air pollution.
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Prevention & Recovery

Is your office air affecting your brain?

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