A new study reveals that air pollution affects worker productivity in addition to overall health. Conducted by Alberto Salvo, associate professor in the Economics department of the National University of Singapore, the study sought to understand the broader impact of air pollution by looking at its economic impact, specifically, how it affects the productivity of an organization’s workforce.
The findings, as published in the American Economic Journal: Applied Economics, suggest that businesses may want to look at emissions control equipment and commercial air filtration solutions as a necessary investment that leads to operational efficiency, rather than simply a cost to comply with government regulations.
The study, saw researchers monitoring factories in China for more than a year. They also interviewed managers at 12 companies spread across four Chinese provinces and gathered data from two factories in Jiangsu and Henan.
To measure and evaluate how indoor air quality affected the productivity records of employees during specific shifts, the researchers monitored how many pieces of fabric each worker made (they were paid for every finished piece). The researcher then compared the number of fabric pieces each worker produced per day to their exposure to particulate matter over time.
PM2.5 levels at one location were seven times over the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPAs) safe limit and registered at 85 µg/m3. It was not mentioned if both factories had commercial high-efficiency filter air purifiers installed, but given these PM levels, it’s safe to say they did not have any emissions control equipment.
“Long-term exposure to ultrafine particles can induce respiratory and cardiovascular diseases. It increases the mortality rates for people living in highly polluted urban areas,” points out Camfil USA’s Charlie Seyffer, Manager of Marketing & Technical Materials for HVAC air filters for commercial buildings.
The researchers found that even though levels didn’t affect the daily productivity of the factory workers, they did find a noticeable drop in output when tracking exposure levels versus productivity over a 30-day period. This observation would suggest that HEPA filtration systems and other emissions control equipment show their value over the long term.
Aside from entering the lungs and crossing into the bloodstream, PM2.5 at high levels may also have a psychological impact on employees, the researchers note.
When searching for air filtration solutions designed for workspaces, offices and factories, be sure to look only at air filter manufacturers who can provide test reports indicating the filter’s performance on capturing PM2.5 particulate matter.
Talk to Camfil USA to learn more about these commercial air filtration systems and how to control your workplace’s indoor air quality.
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