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The Effects of Air Pollution on Business Performance

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Nearly one year ago, in November of 2018, leaders and academics from around the world made an appearance at the World Health Organization’s inaugural Global Conference on Air Pollution and Health; no corporate leaders, however, were present for the event.

The lack of attendance has been viewed as an indication that air quality and pollution aren’t priorities in the corporate world. A virtually never-ending number of world trends can impact business performance, including the growing concern and movement surrounding the environment. If you’re not convinced that air quality affects the function, success and growth of your business, it’s time to take a closer look.

Impact On Employees’ Health

First and foremost, companies should consider the potential health effects that their work environment can have on their staff. Poor air quality presents risks to employees’ health, overall sense of well-being, and ability to perform their duties.

report on central London indicated the equivalent of a whopping 650,000 sick days per year as a result of contaminated air. Air quality can affect your staff indoors as well as out, so don’t overlook indoor pollutants. Make an effort to safeguard air quality from the effects of indoor air contaminants like mold, as well as other indoor toxins.

Not only can poor air quality result in decreased efficiency in their work, but it can eventually lead to an overall loss of employees; no one wants to work for a business that doesn’t care about their health.

Strain On Global Economy

While the health of the population is of utmost importance, it’s not the only aspect that’s negatively affected by poor air quality. Outdoor air pollution is a big concern as well; it racks up an astonishing 225 billion dollars of lost labor income per year.

This further illustrates the collective impact as a result of employee health, be it from indoor or outdoor air quality issues (or both, as the case often is). Clearly it’s not just the employees and business moral that suffer, but the economy as a whole.

study conducted by Yale took the evidence even further regarding monetary impact, showing that air pollution can affect company profit as well. Their research indicated that consumers spent significantly less – about 50 million dollars less, in fact – on days when ozone pollution was higher even by just 10%.

air pollution

Decreased Business Growth

Even if your profit margins remain solid and stable and your offices remain staffed, the impact of poor air quality can affect the reach and growth of your business.

Areas with higher than average levels of air pollution are frequently seen as undesirable cities to live and work in, which means your ability to attract skilled, top quality employees can be seriously hindered; this means little to no expansion. Even with enough stability within the company to sustain current employees long enough to train and promote from inside, business growth could still be significantly delayed.

A survey published by Bain and Company, as well as the American Chamber of Commerce in China, found that 53% of American-owned businesses operating in China experienced difficulty in acquiring senior-skill-level employees, citing the high levels of air pollution in the area as one of the biggest contributors to this shortage.

The Upswing

With all of this information surrounding the negative impact of air pollution on business performance, things might seem pretty grim, but with an increase in awareness can come the potential for improved performance, beyond the obvious.

Aside from improving the well-being of staff, maintaining good company moral, and opportunities for growth by attracting more skilled workers, making an effort to improve your company’s environmental standing does a tremendous amount of good for a company’s image and credibility.

By making an effort right now to understand your company’s carbon footprint, you’ll be better equipped to manage and reduce it, which is an accomplishment that won’t go unnoticed. Modern technological advancements are quickly evolving, which allows other companies, cities and the public to detect the effects of air pollution on health and economy.

Soon, this detection will evolve to also allow for tracing these effects back to the source, in turn revealing which companies are actively working on reducing their levels of pollution.

Final thoughts

There’s an old turn of phrase that says you can’t pour from an empty glass; the environment as a whole is exactly that: a glass. If this proverbial glass goes empty, our existence could not continue.

It’s everyone’s responsibility to make an effort to sustain our environment in order to sustain life. Moreover, from a business-exclusive perspective, the environmental movement has grown rapidly, and it’s important to a vast majority of society, which means it should be important to your business as well if you are to maintain relevance.

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