Poor IAQ Makes People Anxious

Nearly three-quarters of North Americans feel anxious when entering public spaces with poor indoor air quality, according to new research.

Nearly three-quarters of North Americans (74 percent) feel anxious when entering spaces with poor indoor air quality, a new survey reveals. This heightened anxiety has led to a shift in priorities for many adults who work, learn, and operate in indoor spaces.

Conducted by Ambius, the survey of 3,000 U.S. and Canadian adults discovered that 76 percent of North Americans would consider joining the “great resignation” if wellness factors such as work, life and health balance, indoor air quality, hygiene and cleanliness, mental health support, and availability to green space or plants were not provided by their employers.

“As we continue to struggle with consequences of COVID-19, and as employees gradually return to workplaces and general public spaces, it is clear priorities have shifted with health, safety and wellbeing at the forefront of concerns,” said Matt Hayas, Director of Product and Innovation at Ambius.

Poor indoor air quality
Ambius presented survey participants with the four images above and asked which they found the most appealing, stress-relieving, and calming. Option 4, which shows how biophilic design can work in a space, was selected by 45 percent of respondents. (Source: Ambius)

The survey found 69 percent of people said their workspaces need better investment in health, hygiene and safety, while 62 percent said the same about restaurants and retail. This increased emphasis on smarter, healthier public spaces is underlined by the fact that 73 percent would consider paying higher prices for products and services if the environment had better air quality and health and safety measures than the cheaper alternative.

From the survey, it is clear the environment of public spaces plays a critical role in people’s mental health and wellness, with 57 percent of North Americans placing a higher value on work, life and health balance since the start of the pandemic.

One in two North Americans also noted feeling fogginess and tiredness at the end of their workday at present. Whether due to workload, general balance, or environment factors, it demonstrates the increasing awareness people have of how their work impacts their overall mental health.

For those in physical workspaces, 70 percent of survey respondents think their workplace air quality certainly needs improving, and 39 percent describe their current condition as either average, poor, or bad.

“Based on our research, the data shows that people everywhere are keen for investment in smarter, healthier spaces in all walks of life,” said Hayas. “They want better air quality, green space provision, and overall support when it comes to mental and physical health. All of these areas will be essential for current and future employees, as well as everyone entering public or leisure spaces, with people wanting to feel safe and in healthy environments wherever they go.”

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