People Innovation Excellence

The Cleaner the Office, the Better the Brain

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ISE Magazine – Volume 49 : Number 2

It’s been said that cleanliness is next to godliness, but researchers finds that cleanliness will, at the very least, lead to a healthier brain. The Norejane Hendrickson Professor of Family and Child Sciences, showed that a lack of stimulation and a dirty environment in the workplace can have a long-term cognitive effect on employees. Psychologists say that the brain is a muscle, while industrial hygienists point to chemicals in the work environment that may cause decline. There are real things in the workplace that can shape cognitive function – some that you can see or touch, and others you can’t. We showed that both matter to cognitive health. An unclean environment could include various factors – even exposure to agents such as mold, lead or loud noises. Researchers were previously undecided as to a relationship between office sanitation and human activity.

Researchers obtained cognitive function data from 4,963 working adults ages 32 to 84 from the 48 contiguous states. The sample was 47 percent male and 53 percent female. One of the main findings in the research was that the learning of new skills and taking on new challenges resulted in stronger cognitive performance, particularly for women as they aged. The data also revealed that men and women who had jobs that exposed them to a dirty working environment saw a cognitive decline.

Both of these issues are important when we think about the long-term health of men and women. The researchers analyzed the data to examine various workplaces and the workers’ ability to maintain and later use new information. They also looked at executive functioning skills.


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