A new research conducted in the US suggests that the air in your office could damage your health due to the increasing levels of carbon dioxide inside a confined space.
The researchers gathered together 24 volunteers and tested their performance in three different simulated office environments. The key metric here is parts-per-million (ppm) of CO2: 5,000 ppm is currently considered the safe limit for an 8-hour workday, while 90,000 ppm will kill you in just a span of 5 minutes.
So, the team experimented with three different levels over the course of a standard 9-to-5 routine: 550 ppm (similar to outdoor levels), 945 ppm (what you would expect in most offices) and 1,400 ppm (denser but still plausible for many offices).
By giving the participants a cognitive test at the end of the day, they were able to spot a clear trend between CO2 levels and brain function. Those working with 945 ppm of carbon dioxide in the air averaged scores that were 15 percent lower than those in a 550 pm room.
The unfortunate workers who have to handle levels of 1,440 ppm, meanwhile, performed 50 percent worse than the 550 ppm group. People’s ability to use information, respond to a crisis and strategise were hit particularly hard, the researchers said.
So, what affects the increasing CO2 levels?
Indoor concentrations are affected by many different factors: not just the ventilation installed inside the building and how many windows are open, but also the number of people in the room – because we breath out carbon dioxide – and even how much CO2 is floating around in the neighboring streets.
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,” concludes the report, published in the journal Environmental Health Perspectives.
Meanwhile, you might want to reconsider taking any actions thereof asking your boss if you can open up a window.