Tag Archives: cognitive effects

We Shouldn’t Need a Gas Mask to Use A Computer or Blender!

Ever notice how when you buy a new appliance or electronic device, and take it out of the box, or plug it in, the smell makes you nauseous, dizzy, and gives you a headache? Or worse?

That smell is made up of some really toxic chemical fumes. Benzene, styrene, and toluene, among others… in everyday technology!

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New research from the Exposure, Epidemiology & Risk Program, Department of Environmental Health, Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, on how the pollutants in indoor environments affect people’s cognitive functioning (people who are still able to work in polluted offices, not the people who are already too disabled to work in polluted offices) discovered that

Green office environments linked with higher cognitive function scores

…”People who work in well-ventilated offices with below-average levels of indoor pollutants and carbon dioxide (CO2) have significantly higher cognitive functioning scores–in crucial areas such as responding to a crisis or developing strategy–than those who work in offices with typical levels, according to a new study from the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health’s Center for Health and the Global Environment, SUNY Upstate Medical University, and Syracuse University.

“We have been ignoring the 90%. We spend 90% of our time indoors and 90% of the cost of a building are the occupants, yet indoor environmental quality and its impact on health and productivity are often an afterthought,” said Joseph Allen, assistant professor of exposure assessment science, director of the Healthy Buildings Program at the Harvard Center for Health and the Global Environment, and lead author of the study.

“These results suggest that even modest improvements to indoor environmental quality may have a profound impact on the decision-making performance of workers.”

Researchers wanted to look at the impact of ventilation, chemicals, and carbon dioxide on workers’ cognitive function because, as buildings have become more energy efficient, they have also become more airtight, increasing the potential for poor indoor environmental quality.

Building-related illnesses and “sick building syndrome” were first reported in the 1980s as ventilation rates decreased. In response, there has been an emphasis on sustainable design–“green” buildings that are energy efficient and are also designed to enhance indoor environmental quality. The researchers designed this study to identify the specific attributes of green building design that influence cognitive function, an objective measure of productivity.

“The major significance of this finding lies in the fact that these are the critical decision making parameters that are linked to optimal and productive functioning. Losing components of these skills impacts how people handle their day to day lives.”

In other words, pollution prevents people from being smart!

appliance gas mask

Here are just some of the harmful emissions from computers:

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Your Brain Breathes Too

Pollution affects our brains!
Glad some neuroscientists are finally taking this more seriously!

Knowing Neurons

I live in Los Angeles and it’s unfortunate, but true, that the brown cloud of smog hanging over our city is as much an icon of LA as the Hollywood hills.  My morning bike commute is spent sucking on the tailpipes of my fellow Angelenos, and it turns out this doesn’t just make me cranky.  A recent article published in Neurotoxicology suggests that those of us who live in urban environments are much more likely to experience cognitive decline with age.  The culprit?  Air pollution.

Your Brain Breathes Too by Knowing Neurons

While air pollution is generally thought of as a modern problem, humans have evolved to handle polluted air from sources such as forest fires and volcanic eruptions.  Coughing removes large particles from the lung, while macrophages, a type of immune cell, are responsible for engulfing and degrading small particles.  However, some particles are so small that they can penetrate the lung wall, and gaseous…

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