March 19, 2020
Are you working at home part-time or full-time? We’ve compiled a few air quality tips to help you stay healthy and productive.
When CO2 is inhaled in high concentrations, it impedes our brain’s ability to metabolize oxygen. This decreases neural activity and ultimately makes it more difficult to think clearly. Moderate spikes in CO2 that occur when we spend more time behind closed doors can leave us feeling lethargic and struggling to stay focused. In fact, one study found that employees in high-CO2 environments worked 60 slower and scored 12 percent lower on cognitive tests than their peers in low-CO2 environments.
As you spend more time at home, make a point of opening windows to let fresh air in and allow CO2 to escape. In addition, use a standing fan or your central HVAC system to help circulate the air within your home and prevent CO2 from becoming too concentrated in one room.
There’s some truth behind the phrase “cabin fever.” In addition to making you stir-crazy, spending too much time inside a building with poor air quality can actually produce feelings of ill health, or “sick building syndrome.” These nonspecific symptoms are often associated with high levels of airborne particulate matter (PM2.5) and toxic chemicals (VOCs).
Many common household activities contribute to indoor air pollution. For instance, cooking on a gas stove releases microscopic combustion particles (PM2.5) into your air, which can cause your indoor air quality to be worse than that of highly-trafficked cities. In addition, the extra cleaning with high-chemical cleaning products to mitigate COVID-19 can spike VOC levels in your home. Along with increasing your risk of long-term health complications, inhaling high amounts of PM2.5 and VOCs can cause chronic respiratory irritation and leave you more vulnerable to an infection.
Of course, that doesn’t mean you should avoid these activities. When it comes to your indoor air quality, simply being more mindful about your product choices and habits can make a big difference.
The reason why winter is always “cold and flu season” has to do with outdoor temperature and humidity levels. In most areas across the country, temperature and humidity levels dip during the winter and increase in the summer. Studies have shown that low-humidity environments help viruses like the flu linger in the air for a longer period of time, thereby increasing the risk of exposure and aiding outbreaks. Scientists have also discovered that rhinoviruses, the leading cause of the common cold, replicate better at lower temperatures.
Although health experts are still unsure if COVID-19 will prove to be seasonal, maintaining healthy temperature and humidity levels in your home is always a good bet. Ideal temperatures range between 65°F and 80°F, with a relative humidity somewhere between 40 and 50 percent. Keeping an eye on your thermostat and investing in a humidifier in dry months can help you ward off common infections and keep your immune system functioning at its best.
Want to learn more about how your indoor air quality can impact your health risks? Check out this article.
Like teachers, classrooms play an incredibly important role in a student’s ability to learn and grow. If you’re a teacher getting ready for the new year, you’ve most likely invested time and money into preparing your classroom to make sure it fits the needs of you and your students to have a successful school year. Before class starts, there’s one thing we’d like to help you check: your classroom’s air.
We tend to underestimate dust--we’ve all been guilty of letting dust pile up in our homes, especially in harder-to-reach surfaces. Failing to keep the dust in our homes under control, however, can have more consequences than we realize.
Why does it seem significantly more difficult to concentrate on work when it’s hot outside? It has much more to do with our bodies than we may realize. A series of studies have proven that we are unable to concentrate and fully engage with our work if the temperature around us is not within a specific range; if you want to reach a peak level of productivity, you should work in an environment that stays between 68℉ and 76℉.