Oftentimes, poor indoor air quality is associated with potential health issues, and rightfully so. But while looking at the adverse health effects, you’ll also need to look at how poor health impacts the economy.
One of the best studies to date on quantifying potential health and productivity benefits from providing good indoor environmental conditions (IAQ, thermal and lighting) was conducted by William Fisk, head of the Indoor Environment Department at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, and his colleagues. Their findings reflect an analysis of a large number of earlier studies (see Table 1 for a summary of their findings).
Fisk et al. concluded: “Improving air quality would not only lead to significant reductions in illness but would have a direct positive impact on worker productivity. … The potential direct increase in office workers’ performance was estimated to range between 0.5 percent and 5 percent.”
|Source of Productivity Gain
||Potential Annual Health Benefits in US
||Potential U.S. Annual Savings on Productivity Gain (1996 $U.S.)
|Reduced respiratory disease
||16 to 37 million avoided illnesses
$6 to $14 billion
$23 to $54 per person
|Reduced allergies and asthma
||10 to 30 percent decrease in symptoms in 53 million people with allergies and 16 million people with asthma
$2 to $4 billion $20 to $80 per person (with allergies)
|Reduced sick building syndrome symptoms
||20 to 50 percent reduction in symptoms experienced frequently by 15 million workers
$10 to $30 billion $300 per office worker
|Improved worker performance from changes in thermal environment and lighting
||$20 to $160 billion
The ASHRAE Journal
published a summary of this study and Fisk et al.’s findings as a part of a six-part series on the relationship of indoor air quality to health, comfort and productivity.
for a full listing of these articles.