As we look for ways to save energy in “green” buildings, researchers from Upstate suggest we not skimp on air quality.
A study that looked at groups of volunteers in office-like chambers found significant differences in decision-making capabilities among the volunteers depending on the concentration of carbon dioxide in their chambers. Those with the highest levels had the most trouble completing a series of nine simulated experiences designed to measure decision making.
Usha Satish PhD and Siegfried Streufert from Upstate’s Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences collaborated on the work with researchers from the Energy Technologies Division of the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory. Our bodies produce carbon dioxide with every exhalation. The gas is also emitted by the combustion of coal, natural gas and oil. High concentrations of carbon dioxide indoors have been associated with impaired work performance, increased health symptoms and poorer perceived air quality.
“Direct adverse effects of carbon dioxide on human performance may be economically important and may limit energy-saving reductions in outdoor air ventilation per person in buildings,” the team wrote in the journal, Environmental Health Perspectives. Their work garnered international attention. The scientists call for additional research.
Listen to the interview with Dr. Satish.