Poor air quality* may decrease work speed and increase the amount of errors made during work.
Studies of adults performing simulated office work provide further information on the effects of indoor air quality on performance. These studies showed that increased air pollution caused by emissions from typical building materials, furnishing and office equipment caused people to exhale less CO2.
This can mean one of two things:
- Either this is a consequence of reduced metabolic rate because of a lowered motivation to perform work in polluted air.
- Or it could be a consequence of physiological changes leading to inefficient gas exchange in the lungs when polluted air is breathed. This would result in a higher concentration of carbon dioxide in the blood. The latter mechanism is known to cause headaches and difficulty in thinking clearly.
A number of studies have found an effect of the air quality on the performance of office work. One study combined the results from different studies and showed that the performance of office tasks improves linearly as a function of the proportion of people finding the air quality acceptable (upon entering a space):
A 10% reduction in the percentage dissatisfied with the air quality corresponds to about a 1% increase in the performance of office work.
*either due to emissions from e.g. construction products or due to low ventilation rate