For Home For Pro

By: Alyssa Blake, RN, BSN

Are you looking for ways to improve work performance? Well, the solution to boost workplace productivity exists right in your cubicle! 

Did you know that chemicals in the air like carbon dioxide (CO2) and other toxins can impact cognition? Research has shown office workers exposed to excess CO2 have slower response times, lessened decision-making abilities, and poorer focus. 

Although new building designs upgrade ventilation to counteract this, CO2 pollution and poor indoor air quality (IAQ) remain a growing occupational health issue. 


CO2 and IAQ: How They’re Connected 

So, what exactly is CO2 and how does it affect our work? 

CO2 is a common chemical in the air created by burning fossil fuels, cooking, and breathing. We produce this gas as a waste product that’s eliminated each time we exhale. This chemical, along with air pollutants and other compounds, makes up the air we breathe. 

With the help of a CO2 monitor, we can measure CO2 and predict levels of indoor toxins to understand the IAQ of our space. This estimation is possible because CO2 levels often correlate with other air pollutants like particulate matter (PM) and volatile organic compounds (VOCs).


Work Performance and Sick Building Syndrome 

In addition to indicating other pollutant levels, studies suggest CO2 itself is a direct toxin impacting our brains. The chart below shows CO2 levels and their effects. 

At levels of 1000 ppm or greater, cognitive function scores were found to be 50% lower. As levels increase to 1,400 ppm+, people may experience headaches, fatigue, and poor concentration.

Together these cognitive issues contribute to Sick Building Syndrome (SBS). This phenomenon of worker illness after periods indoors harms work attendance and performance, decreasing productivity.


Reduce Workplace CO2 Levels and Improve Productivity

Aranet4 HOME

To address this issue for a healthier office, we need to understand its causes and measure the problem. Overcrowded spaces combined with outdated HVAC systems certainly seem at fault for CO2 buildup. According to researcher Erdmann (2002), the main source of CO2 in the workplace is “the respiration of building occupants.”

By using a portable air quality monitor like Aranet4, we can see just how high CO2 levels climb. The aranet4 even has color blocks that show if the air is healthy or hazardous. 

Empowered with this info, we can do simple things like open windows, buy air-purifying plants, and advocate for upgraded HVAC systems to improve IAQ.

After implementing these changes in a city office, a study found more workplace satisfaction, decreased absences, fewer SBS symptoms, and lowered CO2. Given these benefits, many companies have already begun upgrading buildings to enhance air quality.

In summary, although CO2’s negative effects can seem scary, it is a solvable problem. Employers and employees alike can take action to promote productivity with clean air. Why not start with a CO2 monitor today for a better workplace tomorrow?


Writer Bio/Headshot

Hi, my name is Alyssa and I am a nurse writer with a passion for public health issues and language. Through my nursing work and personal experiences with a sick family member, I realized the importance of community empowerment with health information. I love educating readers and motivating them to rethink their ideas of wellness with my writing!

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