Posted In: Schools

Before 2020, monitoring indoor air quality was not a primary concern for most people, which resulted in undetected harmful indoor air pollution. However, the COVID-19 pandemic has shifted the paradigm, leading parents, teachers, and school administrators to recognize the importance of clean indoor air for promoting healthier learning environments.

The amount of time children spend in school buildings and breathing classroom air can significantly affect their health, positively and negatively. As a result, schools need to have continuous air quality monitoring systems in place to minimize exposure to pollutants effectively. In this context, we will discuss how air quality monitoring can help school facility managers create safer and healthier environments for students, teachers, and staff.

Understanding the significance of indoor air quality is crucial.

High indoor air quality in schools is essential as it directly impacts the health and productivity of students, teachers, and staff. Exposure to excessive levels of carbon dioxide (CO2), volatile organic compounds (VOCs), and airborne particulate matter (PM) can contribute to a range of health issues. These include headaches, exacerbated asthma symptoms, allergic reactions, respiratory illnesses, nasal congestion, eye and skin irritations, coughing, sneezing, fatigue, dizziness, and nausea. Addressing and mitigating these air pollutants is imperative to create a conducive learning environment.

Pollution exposure can have particularly severe effects on students. Children, in particular, are highly vulnerable to air pollution due to their ongoing physical development and greater air intake relative to their size. When schools have poor air quality, with environmental triggers for asthma and allergies, it can lead to increased student absences, reduced test scores, and impairments in attention span and neurodevelopment. It is crucial to address these issues to safeguard our young learners’ well-being and academic performance.

Asthma is the primary cause of school absenteeism among chronically ill students. Airborne allergens like mold, dust mites, and pollen can trigger allergy symptoms and asthma attacks. Enhancing the air quality in schools offers both immediate and long-term benefits. It can lead to fewer absences, reduced asthma attacks, decreased flu transmission, improved speed and performance in schoolwork, and higher scores on math and reading tests. Additionally, optimizing classroom ventilation can lower indoor pollutant concentrations, mitigate the spread of COVID-19, and alleviate the frequency of allergy and asthma symptoms.

Overcoming obstacles to enhancing air quality in classrooms.

However, schools need help to ensure good indoor air quality in classrooms. These challenges encompass outdated school buildings with insufficient insulation, inadequate building management systems (BMS), and ageing heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) systems. According to the U.S. Government Accountability Office, approximately 36,000 public schools must update or replace their HVAC systems. While many schools strive to enhance ventilation rates in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, replacing obsolete systems can be expensive, disrupt classes, and take several months or even longer, rendering it impractical for numerous schools.

Classroom overcrowding poses a significant challenge for schools. When multiple students occupy a single room for extended periods, carbon dioxide (CO2) levels can rise to potentially hazardous levels. The American Society of Heating, Refrigerating, and Air-Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE) recommends maintaining indoor CO2 levels below 1,000 parts per million. Unfortunately, CO2 concentrations in schools often exceed this threshold, reaching as high as 3,000 to 6,000 ppm.

Outdoor air pollution is another primary concern for schools, especially in areas prone to wildfires or high pollution levels. When doors and windows open and close throughout the day, airborne pollutants and allergens can enter the classroom and build up to levels up to five times greater than outdoor concentrations.

Tags: schools

Leave A Comment

© 2024 - All Rights Reserved - Med Solutions LLC