Our moods are directly influenced by our overall physical being and our feeling of being a healthy organism. We are more energetic and alert when we feel well and are in good physical condition. Humanity is intimately connected to trillions of microorganisms in ecosystems called microbiomes. The human microbiome is the aggregate of all microbiota that resides on or within human tissues and fluids like our skin, saliva, lungs, and gastrointestinal tracts.  We depend on microbiomes to protect us against germs, break down food to release energy, and produce our vitamins.

According to an article in Engineered Systems Magazine, recent research using the same tools that sequenced the human genome revealed a new dimension of indoor air quality’s role in determining human health and mental wellbeing. This research, known as metagenomics, indicates that most microbes and bacteria are essential to our day-to-day functioning. What is interesting is that these tiny microorganisms residing in our gastrointestinal tract can also impact our neurological activity, moods, thinking, social interactions, and psychological development through chemical messages sent to our brains released from bacteria. Almost everyone has had a “gut sense” or a gut-brain connection one time in their lives. Think of a time when you instantly felt anxious about a large decision or when your intestines were churning nervously just prior to going on a job interview or new date. These physical reactions to external or emotional stimuli affecting your microbiomes released chemical responses and impacted your mood.

The unique community of microbes in a room of a building is created by which microbes survive, flourish, or parish in each individual space. Some elements that microbes respond to in an indoor space are surface materials, indoor temperature, air humidity, off gassing of plants and radiation from light. When designing HVAC systems for a building, special consideration should be given to the indoor climate and how it will shape the mental state of the occupants. Choices about ventilation can unintentionally impact indoor ecosystems and lead to negative airborne bacterial communities compared to natural ventilation. By selecting proper indoor ventilation systems that include advanced insulation materials, we can build microbes that support positive indoor air quality that becomes part of our microbiomes, moods, and wellness. Insulation materials inside air-handling systems need to ensure that the air remains mold-, dust- and fiber-free. Using the wrong type of insulation can cause particulate fibers to circulate or it could off-gas volatile organic compounds (VOCs) into the indoor air. Armacell’s closed-cell elastomeric foam insulation products are fiber-free, non-particulating, have low VOCs and have the added advantage of antimicrobial protection making it a clear choice for indoor spaces and the mental health of inhabitants.

For more information or resources, please visit: https://www.esmagazine.com/articles/99510-how-indoor-air-quality-impacts-our-psychological-development