Could Air Pollution Make You Worse At Your Job?

Could Air Pollution Make You Worse At Your Job?

January 7, 2019

It’s no surprise that air pollution has a negative impact on health, but could it also sully your job performance?

That’s the conclusion of researchers at the National University of Singapore, who looked at levels of fine particulate matter in the air and worker output at two textile mills. They found that with chronic exposure to higher-than-average pollution, daily output decreased by 1 percent. “The effects are subtle but highly significant,” said Liu Haoming, an associate professor involved in the study.

But why, specifically, did productivity dip? The team isn’t so sure. “High levels of particles are visible and might affect an individual’s well-being in a multitude of ways,” said Liu. “Besides entering via the lungs and into the bloodstream, there could also be a psychological element. Working in a highly polluted setting for long periods of time could affect your mood or disposition to work.”

The researchers hope their work will broaden the understanding of air pollution’s impact in ways previously unexplored: “We typically think that firms benefit from lax pollution regulations, by saving on emission control equipment and the like; here we document an adverse effect on the productivity of their work force,” said co-author Alberto Salvo. You can read more about the study here.


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