How Chess Players Are Affected by Poor Indoor Air Quality

During a game of chess, one mistake can cost the championship.  

But did you know exposure to poor indoor air quality can cause even more mistakes? 

Just like in any sport, every move in chess is critical. One wrong decision, and you’ll face a checkmate. That’s why you need to be accurate, strategic and analytical. More importantly, you must think quickly on your feet as professional chess tournaments are both limited in time and the number of moves. 

But how can you defeat your opponent when your cognitive ability has been compromised? 

Recent air quality research published by the Journal of Management Science revealed that indoor air pollution significantly compromises chess players’ ability to make the best decisions. And the higher the particulate matter (PM2.5) in the chess tournament arena, the worse the players’ performance. 

How Air Quality Affects Chess Players 

It’s easy to see the effects of poor air quality on your physical ability. When you jog near a busy highway, for example, you’ll notice that you get tired right away and your breath is more labored. You might even notice that you can’t run as far compared to when you run in a forest or park. 

However, the impact of air pollution on your cognitive function isn’t as evident.  

Hence, a team of researchers conducted a chess study on air quality with 121 chess players in three seven-round tournaments. The experiment was carried out for three years from 2017 to 2019.  

After analyzing 30,000 chess moves and measuring indoor air pollution, they discovered that for every moderate increase of PM2.5 (10 micrograms per cubic meter of air), chess players are 2.1% more likely to make a significant error. Plus, they are 20.2% more likely to commit mistakes throughout the match. Additionally, the researchers compared their findings with 20 years of historical data from games and found that the results were similar. 

Air Quality Studies on Cognitive Abilities 

While the experiment was conducted on chess players, that doesn’t mean that you’re exempted from the effects of air pollution. In fact, multiple air quality studies show that PM 2.5 can affect your ability to concentrate, solve problems, be agile, and even remember, among other things.  

Other air quality research also reports that exposure to high levels of air pollution increases your chances of developing dementia, Alzheimer’s, and other cognitive disorders and dysfunctions. That’s because the air you breathe circulates throughout your entire body—including your brain.  

By breathing in PM 2.5 and other air pollutants, you’re more likely to develop multiple health problems. 

5 Tips For Better Indoor Air Quality 

So, how can you protect yourself from indoor air pollution and keep yourself sharp? Here are 5 tips to help you improve indoor air quality in your home. 

#1 Get an air purifier 

First, the simplest way to improve your air quality is with an air purifier. This can help filter the air in your home by sucking in dust particles and other indoor air pollutants and recirculating purified air. And if you can’t afford an expensive one, try this DIY Box Fan Air Purifier tutorial. 

#2 Monitor the air quality 

By investing in indoor air quality monitors, you can monitor the air inside and outside your home. Thus, you can make smarter decisions to protect your health, like closing your windows when outside air pollution is marked as hazardous. 

#3 Clean your home regularly 

Use a microfiber cloth for wiping dust, vacuum your home regularly, and use eco-friendly cleaning solutions to reduce the dust and particles in your home. This can help reduce dust, pollen, mold, and other allergens. 

#4 Avoid using scents 

Did you know air fresheners, scented candles, and oil diffusers release chemicals into the air? This can even include Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs), which impact your air quality and can harm your personal health. 

#5 Minimize carpeting 

Carpets can trap dust, dander, mold, and other air pollutants in your home. As a result, they can trigger asthma and allergies if they aren’t regularly cleaned. If possible, switching to hardwood floors can help improve your air quality. 

Better Indoor Air Quality Leads to a Healthier Brain 

Much like chess players, you need to be analytical, strategic, and accurate with every move you make. Poor indoor air quality impairs your cognitive abilities and increases the chances of neurological disease. That's why you must take the necessary steps to improve the air quality in your home. 
Worried about your air quality? 

Monitor the Particulate Matter levels around the world with our free, real-time PurpleAir Map or join PurpleAir’s mission to make air quality data accessible to everyone by investing in an air quality monitor for your home. 

Together, we can be informed and make changes in our daily habits and the community to improve air quality.