Office Air Quality May Affect Employees’ Cognition, Productivity

Harvard School of Public Health

Boston, MA – The air quality within an office can have significant impacts on employees’ cognitive function, including response times and ability to focus, and it may also affect their productivity, according to new research led by Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health. The one-year study, which included participants in offices across six countries working in a variety of fields, including engineering, real estate investment, architecture, and technology, found that increased concentrations of fine particulate matter (PM2.5) and lower ventilation rates (measured using carbon dioxide (CO2) levels as a proxy) were associated with slower response times and reduced accuracy on a series of cognitive tests. The researchers noted that they observed impaired cognitive function at concentrations of PM2.5 and CO2 that are common within indoor environments. 

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