Indoor air quality is a hot topic in the workplace. The current push toward greater transparency and accountability in workplace conditions has resulted in many organizations improving their indoor air quality policies, procedures, and practices. Organizations must work towards a policy that prevents unhealthy working conditions from occurring in the first place. This article will discuss how indoor air quality can hinder or help employee’s cognitive abilities.
1. Increased risk for chronic diseases
In addition to having a slower response time and reduced cognitive function, employees who work in environments with even low levels of air pollution are at an increased risk for chronic diseases such as heart disease and stroke. Studies have also shown that people exposed to high levels of air pollution in the workplace are very likely to develop chronic diseases.
2. Impairs learning and memory
Another consequence of poor indoor air quality can be the impairment of learning and memory. Studies have shown that exposure to low levels of air pollution can reduce the amount of brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) in the hippocampus, which is responsible for learning and memory. In addition, air pollution can also increase the production of reactive oxygen species (ROS), which can damage cells in the brain and reduce cognitive function.
3. Difficulty concentrating and staying focused
In addition to having a decreased ability to focus and concentrate, employees who work in environments with low levels of air pollution are also more likely to experience difficulty staying focused. Exposure to low levels of air pollution has been shown to reduce employees’ concentration level, working memory, and task switching abilities. One study found that employees who worked in an environment with high levels of air pollution could switch between tasks less quickly than employees who worked in an environment with no air pollution.
4. Increased risk for respiratory problems
Employees working in environments with high levels of air pollution are also at an increased risk for respiratory problems. Studies have shown that exposure to high levels of air pollution can increase the severity of asthma, increase the number of respiratory infections, and increase the amount of mucus in the lungs. In addition, exposure to low levels of air pollution has increased the risk of developing chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).
5. Impairment of cognitive abilities
The concentration of air pollutants in indoor environments can also harm cognitive abilities. Studies have shown that employees working in polluted environments are more likely to experience problems with memory and concentration. In addition, studies have also shown that employees working in contaminated environments are more likely to experience difficulties with problem-solving and decision-making. While it is clear that indoor air quality can harm employees’ health, it is also clear that it can impair their cognitive abilities. As organizations strive to create healthier working environments, they should consider the impact that poor indoor air quality has on employee productivity.
Poor indoor air quality can have several negative consequences on cognitive function, including difficulty concentrating and staying focused, impaired learning and memory, and increased risk for respiratory problems. To protect employees from these adverse effects, employers should improve the air quality in their workplaces. This way employees can see reduced risks of developing chronic illnesses, better cognitive function and memory, as well as more productivity when working.