High indoor CO2 concentrations in an office environment increases the transcutaneous CO2 level and sleepiness during cognitive work
The purpose of this study is to perform a multiparametric analysis on the environmental factors, the physiological stress reactions in the body, the measured alertness, and the subjective symptoms during simulated office work. Volunteer male subjects were monitored during three 4-hr work meetings in an office room, both in a ventilated and a non-ventilated environment. The environmental parameters measured included CO2, temperature, and relative humidity. The physiological test battery consisted of measuring autonomic nervous system functions, salivary stress hormones, blood's CO2- content and oxygen saturation, skin temperatures, thermal sensations, vigilance, and sleepiness. The study shows that we can see physiological changes caused by high CO2 concentration. The findings support the view that low or moderate level increases in concentration of CO2 in indoor air might cause elevation in the blood's transcutaneously assessed CO2. The observed findings are higher CO2 concentrations in tissues, changes in heart rate variation, and an increase of peripheral blood circulation during exposure to elevated CO2 concentration. The subjective parameters and symptoms support the physiological findings. This study shows that a high concentration of CO2 in indoor air seem to be one parameter causing physiological effects, which can decrease the facility user's functional ability. The correct amount of ventilation with relation to the number of people using the facility, functional air distribution, and regular breaks can counteract the decrease in functional ability. The findings of the study suggest that merely increasing ventilation is not necessarily a rational solution from a technical-economical viewpoint. Instead or in addition, more comprehensive, anthropocentric planning of space is needed as well as instructions and new kinds of reference values for the design and realization of office environments.