If you work in an office environment,chances are you’ve attended a few group meetings in a small conference room with your boss and co-workers. In some cases you,once you emerge,you might wonder if it was much warmer in there than the rest of the office. Well,not only are you right about that,but the process could also be affecting your mental well being.
You see,when you’re stuck in a small room with insufficient air flow (because it’s air conditioned) with lots of people,the Co2 and heat tends to increase. At least that is what the New York Times have found. They have carried out over eight studies in the last few years have analysed the changes occur in the air in a room containing lots of people for a long time.
It is well known that air contamination can cause asthma,lung conditions,not to mention cancer in some instances. However,it turns out that low air quality can also affect your ability to think clearly,or at least as well as you can normally.
The main reason behind all this is the drive to make buildings more energy efficient,either to keep heat in or to keep them cool (via air conditioners).This is done by installing better insulation,but the process also involves reducing the air flow in / out of the premises,as this air flow increases the loss or gain of heat.
But,whilst technology improvements have made it easier to insulate buildings and install air conditioning units,the move has also meant that we are actually sealing in all the buildup of gases and toxins released by office staff.
You may have noticed one of the effects of this,in that if one person on your office floor has a bad cold,you may well find that more people are catching it than is normal. This goes for you too of course,in fact there’s a higher chance you’ll catch it via the air on your office,than if you came across them on public transport.
However,indoor air quality is not monitored as much as outdoors,so scientists can’t say this for sure that this is the case.
They do say however is that a CO2 build-up of over 1,200 parts per million (Pppm) is not good. You see,when you’re inhaling more carbon dioxide than is good for you,your blood vessels increase in size,to try and get more oxygen from your blood into your organs. One of the effects of this,some scientists say,is to reduce neural activity between the parts of your brain. Effectively,that reduces your brain power and hence your decision-making process is impaired.
But at the moment,they cannot be sure of the extent of the problem. Dr Joseph Allen carried out a similar study in 2016. He suggests that,in order to make sure you have enough ventilation to offset the concentration level of CO2,a meeting room should have at least 6 cubic feet of air flow per minute per person.
Even that may not be enough. Better then would be to equip meeting rooms with CO2 sensors,or perhaps just place the room on an outside wall and give them opening windows instead of in the centre of the floor.That way meetings can take place with a fresh air flow from an open window,without causing issues for the rest of the floor.
Who knows,maybe this introduction of clean air may even give your employees greater brain power so that they can better swap ideas to solve the problem you’re having a meeting for in the first place..
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