Poor air is responsible for nearly 13,000 premature deaths a year in Germany alone. The country has one of the highest nitrogen oxide concentrations in the EU. This affects not only the big cities, but also many medium-sized or small towns. Germany is trying to get a grip on the situation by introducing environmental zones, diesel driving bans and environmental lanes.
But the air is still bad, especially for those who live or work along busy roads. Because we are not only exposed to bad air outside, but also indoors all the time. Now, results of a Harvard University study have been presented on how office and indoor air quality affects employees in the short term. Ultimately, we spend up to 90 percent of our time indoors.
CO2 concentrations outdoors are typically around 400 parts per million (ppm), while 1000 ppm is considered the maximum indoors. The concentration of particulate matter naturally varies from city to city and is largely dependent on the volume of traffic. The EU has set a limit of 4 µg per m³. Environmental zones can reduce these values considerably. Of course, the better the air on the road, the better the air in offices and indoor spaces. The study shows that an increase of fine dust in the office by 10 micrograms per cubic metre, this already causes a reduction in reaction time by one percent, the accuracy of decisions deteriorates by more than one percent. With the concentration of CO2, the picture was even worse: with a not at all unusual increase of 500 ppm of CO2, reaction time also deteriorated by one per cent, and the accuracy of decisions worsened by as much as two per cent.
It is clear that the dirtier the air outside, the more difficult it is to maintain clean air for employees inside. If the office is located on a busy and polluted street, the only thing that helps is a suitable filter that cleans the air coming in from outside. Even better, however, are the strict application and control of environmental zones, so that dirty air does not enter the rooms where people work in the first place. Green Zones not only protect lives on the road, but also ensure that people work better and perform better indoors.
By the way: In the Green Zones app, you can always find the value of CO2, particulate matter, nitrogen dioxide and ozone in your city, in addition to all the environmental zones in Europe.