You’re holed up with colleagues in a meeting room for two hours, hashing out a plan. Risks are weighed, decisions are made. Then, as you emerge, you realize it was much, much warmer and stuffier in there than in the rest of the office.
Small rooms can build up heat and carbon dioxide from our breath—as well as other substances —to an extent that might surprise you, The New York Times reports. And as it happens, a small body of evidence suggests that when it comes to decision making, indoor air may matter more than we have realized.
At least eight studies in the past seven years have looked at what happens specifically in a room accumulating carbon dioxide, a main ingredient in our exhalations. While the results are inconsistent, they are also intriguing. The research suggests that while the kinds of air pollution known to cause cancer and asthma remain much more pressing as public health concerns, there may also be pollutants whose most detrimental effects are on the mind, rather than the body.
Without a specialized sensor, you can’t know how much pollution is building up while you hunker down in a small room for a long meeting. It might be a generally good practice, when possible, to crack open a door or a window. Letting some fresh air in might even help keep good ideas flowing during your meeting, and prevent the discussion from getting too stale. Read the full story.