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The real reason people fall asleep in meetings

In early June of this year, Adam Ginsburg, a scientist with the Virginia-based National Radio Astronomy Observatory, attended an international research conference. Over the course of several days, he joined in meetings with his colleagues—just like countless professionals do everyday. But Ginsburg had something most meeting attendees do not: an indoor air quality monitor to measure the carbon dioxide levels (CO2) in the conference rooms.

People exhale CO2

To give a sense of perspective, experts recommend no more than 1,000–1,200 parts per million (ppm) CO2 indoors. Ginsburg noted at the conference, however, that CO2 levels rose to almost 1,700ppm when several people were enclosed in a room. When people sat and listened to a speaker, for example, they naturally inhaled oxygen and exhaled CO2. Over the course of the meeting, the CO2 level increased. Ginsburg found that CO2 levels dropped during the coffee break, as the door opened and people—and air—circulated.

Effects of poor indoor air quality

Many people are familiar with the experience of sitting in a stuffy meeting room for a prolonged period of time. After a while, we may feel drowsy or slightly confused. Increasingly, scientists think these sensations are caused by elevated levels of CO2 in meeting rooms.

“Oh, that explains a lot”

When Ginsburg shared about CO2 levels at his conference, he said various colleagues responded, “Oh, that explains a lot.” He further explained, “that’s because high concentrations of CO2 might be making people lethargic and unproductive not just there but in offices...around the world.”

Proper ventilation is key

Thus far, research studies have shown that people perform better on high-level cognitive challenges in buildings with low emissions, also known as “green” buildings. As the research expands, however, scientists are uncovering a surprising side effect in green buildings. These type of buildings are tightly sealed around the doors and windows, which helps create greater energy efficiency. However, without proper ventilation, this building method can trap in air with high CO2 levels.

Indoor air quality is critical to a healthy work environment. This is true from large corporate offices to home-based work spaces. An air filtration system with a true HEPA-filter, like the Coway Airmega, can ensure healthy, clean air for your daily working life. The Coway Airmega features an embedded air quality sensor. When it senses issues in the air, the system automatically starts the ventilating and filtering process, restoring the air to optimal quality.