"Associations of Cognitive Function Scores With Carbon Dioxide, Ventilation, and Volatile Organic Compound Exposures in Office Workers: a Controlled Exposure Study of Green and Conventional Office Environments"

Associations of Cognitive Function Scores With Carbon Dioxide, Ventilation, and Volatile Organic Compound Exposures in Office Workers: a Controlled Exposure Study of Green and Conventional Office Environments is a 33-page legal document that was released by the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences on October 26, 2015 and used nation-wide.

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ehp
ENVIRONMENTAL
HEALTH
PERSPECTIVES
http://www.ehponline.org
Associations of Cognitive Function Scores with Carbon
Dioxide, Ventilation, and Volatile Organic Compound
Exposures in Office Workers: A Controlled Exposure
Study of Green and Conventional Office Environments
Joseph G. Allen, Piers MacNaughton, Usha Satish,
Suresh Santanam, Jose Vallarino, and John D. Spengler
http://dx.doi.org/10.1289/ehp.1510037
Received: 4 April 2015
Accepted: 12 October 2015
Advance Publication: 26 October 2015
Note to readers with disabilities: EHP will provide a
508-conformant
version of this article upon final publication.
If you require a 508-conformant version before then, please contact
ehp508@niehs.nih.gov. Our staff will work with you to assess and
meet your accessibility needs within 3 working days.
ehp
ENVIRONMENTAL
HEALTH
PERSPECTIVES
http://www.ehponline.org
Associations of Cognitive Function Scores with Carbon
Dioxide, Ventilation, and Volatile Organic Compound
Exposures in Office Workers: A Controlled Exposure
Study of Green and Conventional Office Environments
Joseph G. Allen, Piers MacNaughton, Usha Satish,
Suresh Santanam, Jose Vallarino, and John D. Spengler
http://dx.doi.org/10.1289/ehp.1510037
Received: 4 April 2015
Accepted: 12 October 2015
Advance Publication: 26 October 2015
Note to readers with disabilities: EHP will provide a
508-conformant
version of this article upon final publication.
If you require a 508-conformant version before then, please contact
ehp508@niehs.nih.gov. Our staff will work with you to assess and
meet your accessibility needs within 3 working days.
Environ Health Perspect DOI: 10.1289/ehp.1510037
Advance Publication: Not Copyedited
Associations of Cognitive Function Scores with Carbon Dioxide,
Ventilation, and Volatile Organic Compound Exposures in Office
Workers: A Controlled Exposure Study of Green and Conventional
Office Environments
1
1
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1
Joseph G. Allen
, Piers MacNaughton
, Usha Satish
, Suresh Santanam
, Jose Vallarino
, and
1
John D. Spengler
1
Exposure, Epidemiology & Risk Program, Department of Environmental Health, Harvard T.H.
2
Chan School of Public Health, Boston, Massachusetts, USA;
Psychiatry and Behavioral
Sciences, SUNY-Upstate Medical School, Syracuse, New York, USA;
Industrial Assessment
3
Center, Center of Excellence, Syracuse University, Syracuse, New York, USA
Address correspondence to Joseph G. Allen, Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, 401
Park Drive, Landmark Center, 404-L, Boston, MA 02215 USA. Telephone: 617-384-8475. E-
mail:
JGAllen@hsph.harvard.edu
Short running title: Green buildings and cognitive function
Acknowledgments: We thank the study participants for volunteering and the reviewers of this
manuscript for their insights that helped improve the manuscript. This research was supported by
a gift from United Technologies to the Center for Health and the Global Environment at the
Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health. Dr. Allen’s time was primarily supported by faculty
startup funds, Dr. Spengler’s time was primarily funded by his endowed chair, and Mr.
MacNaughton’s time was supported by NIEHS environmental epidemiology training grant
5T32ES007069-35. United Technologies Research Center provided limited input during the
1
Environ Health Perspect DOI: 10.1289/ehp.1510037
Advance Publication: Not Copyedited
study design phase (support for adding a control day and adding a third CO
test level). United
2
Technologies was not involved in the data collection, data analysis, data interpretation, data
presentation, or drafting of the manuscript.
Competing financial interests: The authors declare they have no financial interests.
2
Environ Health Perspect DOI: 10.1289/ehp.1510037
Advance Publication: Not Copyedited
ABSTRACT
Background: The indoor built environment plays a critical role in our overall well-being, both
due to the amount of time we spend indoors (~90%) and the ability of buildings to positively or
negatively influence our health. The advent of sustainable design or green building strategies
reinvigorated questions regarding the specific factors in buildings that lead to optimized
conditions for health and productivity.
Objective: To simulate indoor environmental quality (IEQ) conditions in “Green” and
“Conventional” buildings and evaluate the impacts on an objective measure of human
performance – higher order cognitive function.
Methods: Twenty-four (24) participants spent 6 full work days (9 a.m. – 5 p.m.) in an
environmentally controlled office space, blinded to test conditions. On different days, they were
exposed to IEQ conditions representative of Conventional (high volatile organic compound
(VOC) concentration) and Green (low VOC concentration) office buildings in the U.S.
Additional conditions simulated a Green building with a high outdoor air ventilation rate (labeled
Green+) and artificially elevated carbon dioxide (CO
) levels independent of ventilation.
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Results: On average, cognitive scores were 61% higher on the Green building day and 101%
higher on the two Green+ building days than on the Conventional building day (p<0.0001).
VOCs and CO
were independently associated with cognitive scores.
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Conclusions: Cognitive function scores were significantly better in Green+ building conditions
compared to the Conventional building conditions for all nine functional domains. These
findings have wide ranging implications because this study was designed to reflect conditions
that are commonly encountered every day in many indoor environments.
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Environ Health Perspect DOI: 10.1289/ehp.1510037
Advance Publication: Not Copyedited
INTRODUCTION
The increasing cost of energy in the 1970s led to a change in building practices throughout the
United States, as buildings were increasingly constructed to be airtight and energy efficient. This
is reflected in decreasing air exchange rates in homes and buildings. For homes, beginning
around this time period, typical air exchange rates began decreasing from approximately 1 air
change per hour (ACH) to approximately 0.5 ACH (Chan et al. 2003; Hodgson et al. 2000;
ASHRAE 2013). Homes built in the past decade are designed to be even more energy-efficient
and therefore can be even tighter (0.1 - 0.2 ACH; Allen et al. 2012; ASHRAE 2013). The 100+
year story of ventilation in buildings is more complicated, and neatly summarized recently by
Persily (2015). Persily describes the original ASHRAE 62 standard, issued in 1973, and the
many subsequent iterations (e.g. ASHRAE 62.1 applies to commercial buildings), demonstrating
the evolving nature of our understanding regarding the relationship between ventilation rate and
acceptable indoor air quality. Similar to the story with homes, commercial ventilation
requirements were lowered in the early 1980’s, largely as an energy-conservation measure
(Persily 2015).
With these design changes comes the potential for negative consequences to indoor
environmental quality (IEQ), as decreased ventilation can lead to increased concentration of
indoor pollutants. Building-related illnesses and sick building syndrome (SBS) were first
reported in the 1980s as ventilation rates decreased (Riesenberg and Arehart-Treichel 1986),
with significant annual costs and productivity losses due to health symptoms attributable to the
indoor environment (Fisk et al. 1997). A few factors of the indoor and work environment have
been found to be associated with occupant health. These include environmental measures, such
as humidity; building factors, such as ventilation rate; workspace factors, such as the presence of
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