Effects on Occupant Health and Work Performance
Indoor environmental conditions can have wide-ranging and costly impacts on our health and productivity. The Indoor Environment Group studies the effects of air pollutant exposures in offices, schools, and other buildings on health and productivity. The Group performs epidemiologic studies to determine how pollutant sources, concentrations and other environmental factors correlate with symptoms, absence rates, and other performance metrics. Changes are implemented to modify the environmental factors, and exposure and health data are collected before and after. Statistical analyses reveal the impacts of these interventions. Some intervention studies are performed with volunteers who spend time in office-like rooms that are specially designed to achieve highly-controlled conditions. Risk analysis is also used to estimate how exposures to various pollutants impact adverse health and to identify the most important pollutants at the population level.
The Group also has a strong record of critical reviews and statistical meta-analyses of published data to determine how various factors affect health and work performance. Examples include the effect of dampness and mold on respiratory health, an evaluation of how ventilation rates in offices influence prevalence rates of sick building symptoms, and the impacts of air conditioning and air cleaning on varoius health outcomes. When feasible, quantitative relationships between risk factors and outcomes are derived. Our Group and others then use these relationships to calculate the economic costs of indoor environmental exposures and the economic benefits of undertaking various measures to improve indoor environments.