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Exploring the physiological, neurophysiological and cognitive performance effects of elevated carbon dioxide concentrations indoors

Snow, S., Boyson, A., Paas, K. H. W., Gough, H., King, M. F., Barlow, J., Noakes, C. J. and Schraefel, M. C. (2019) Exploring the physiological, neurophysiological and cognitive performance effects of elevated carbon dioxide concentrations indoors. Building and Environment, 156. pp. 243-252. ISSN 0360-1323

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To link to this item DOI: 10.1016/j.buildenv.2019.04.010

Abstract/Summary

Rationale: An accumulation of CO2 in occupied indoor spaces is correlated to negative impacts on concentration, sleepiness and aspects of cognitive performance. However factors such as: (a) the relative effect of CO2 itself compared to other pollutants; (b) the minimum necessary exposure time for cognitive performance to be affected; and (c) the physiological drivers of cognitive performance reductions due to increased indoor CO2 concentrations are not yet clear. Method: A within-subjects counterbalanced study design was used to test cognitive performance, subjective and physiological parameters of 31 volunteers during short (< 40 minutes) exposures to normal CO2 (830 ppm) and high CO2 (2,700 ppm, raised by introducing pure CO2 alongside the occupant generated CO2). The study was conducted in a small naturally ventilated office and EEG was used as an objective indicator of sleepiness. Results: The addition of pure CO2 to the room resulted in the absence of an expected learning effect in two cognitive performance test battery components without measurably affecting any of the physiological, psychological, or reported comfort, sick building syndrome and health variables measured. However participants who had slept less the previous night appeared more susceptible to becoming sleepier as a result of the increased CO2. Contributions: The results suggest (1) the addition of pure CO2 may influence aspects of cognitive performance after only short exposures (2) these changes occur in the absence of clear physiological drivers, (3) lack of sleep may mediate people’s response to higher CO2 concentration.

Item Type:Article
Refereed:Yes
Divisions:Faculty of Science > School of Mathematical, Physical and Computational Sciences > Department of Meteorology
ID Code:83224
Publisher:Elsevier

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