The classroom is a vital indoor environment for all children, as this is the space where young minds learn and retain new information during the school day. These classrooms are usually home to anywhere from 10 kids to even hundreds of kids in college settings. However, according to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), many of these schools used to educate students are buildings that were built over 50 years ago, and additionally one-fourth of these schools have at least one or more buildings in need of extensive repair or replacement due to IAQ (indoor air quality) problems. When it comes to schools, the health and comfort of students is a main priority and a key component to ensuring both of these things is maintaining optimal indoor air quality conditions in these commercial indoor environments.

Indoor air quality is an often overlooked but important component to any indoor environment, including commercial spaces that inhabit numerous occupants such as schools. Recently, indoor air quality (IAQ) has transformed into a huge topic, due to large amounts of evidence that has demonstrated the impact of airborne pollutants and poor indoor air quality on the health of individuals heavily exposed to this space. The EPA found that most Americans on average spend about 90% of their time indoors, and kids will be in their classrooms for up to 40 hours a week. Therefore, the indoor air quality in a classroom is vital to the health of a child and is an indoor environment that needs to have air filtration solutions implemented within this setting.

In this article we are going to learn more about how to improve air quality in classrooms, the various indoor air pollutants that may be present in this indoor space, and the best solutions to use to both test and mitigate airborne pollutants in a school.

Classroom Air Quality

Over the past 40 to even 50 years, indoor air pollution has increased due to a number of factors, including tight building constructions, reduction of ventilation rates, synthetic building materials and furniture, and even the use of chemical cleaning products in this space. Among these impacted indoor environments, schools and classrooms are included in the affected indoor air space. The indoor air quality in a classroom has been shown to have an association with asthma in school children, as well as increased absences and impaired performance on standardized tests – according to Building and Environment journal. There are several factors in a school classroom that can contribute to increased level of airborne pollutants that will translate into decreased indoor air quality levels, such as poor ventilation in the space, lack of airflow, and other various aspects within the indoor space that will impact IAQ. Depending on the conditions in a classroom, the different sources of the pollution, and even the occupants in this indoor environment can all impact the specific pollutants present in the air.

Some of the most common airborne pollutants found in schools will include particulate matter, carbon dioxide (CO2), carbon monoxide (CO), nitrogen dioxide (NO2), VOCs and humidity and temperature. When these pollutants are present in the indoor air space it can lead to adverse health effects to those exposed to these pollutants for extended periods of time. School kids especially have been found to be greatly affected by these indoor pollutants, which testing has shown in schools with increased levels of air pollution as it was found to have brought down testing scores in these impacted schools.

How Many US Schools Suffer from Problems Related to Poor Indoor Air Quality

As we have discussed throughout this article, indoor air quality has become an increasing issue – particularly in schools where children spend a large bulk of their time in which and that is an important environment for development. The EPA found that indoor levels of air pollutants can be two to five time higher – and even 100 times higher in some cases, then the level of pollutants in outdoor air. Schools around the US, from elementary, middle, high school, and even college campuses are composed of nearly 56 million people – about 20 percent of the U.S. population, that spend the majority of their time and days inside these schools. However, when it comes to the number of schools that have problems related to indoor air quality (IAQ) this figure can be hard to determine.

According to the US Government Accounting Office and US Department of Education, they estimated that nearly 1/3 of all schools need basic repairs conducted in this indoor environment. Within these schools about 60% of them need to correct and environmental problem such as poor ventilation, about 21% of schools reported inadequate heating, 37% reported inadequate ventilation, and 24% reported poor IAQ. Unfortunately, parents trust schools to take care of their children, however, they never expect that officials will refuse information when it comes to indoor air quality in this highly occupied space full of children. Therefore, it is important to collaborate with your school district to ensure that proper testing and mitigation methods are being integrated into schools to try to maintain optimal indoor air quality conditions in your child’s school.

Health Issues in Schools

The health of children today is specifically affected by our environment with complex environmental threats to toxic chemicals that can pollute the air. When children are exposed to poor indoor air quality in their schools it can have not only an effect on their school performance, but it will also lead to some potential health issues as well. Some of the most common health issues that a student may have to increased levels of indoor air pollutants in their school can start with asthmatic symptoms, respiratory problems, headaches or dizziness, coughing, and even shortness of breath. When it comes to how a child will react to airborne pollution it will be completely different than that of adults – especially since young children are still developing and may be more susceptible to these pollutants.

If your child starts to complain of symptoms that progress within the indoor space of their school, it may be necessary to discuss this problem with their teacher to decide how this issue will be addressed. The best thing that may be able to be done in your kid’s schools is air quality testing to determine the pollutants and pollutant levels in the school and decide whether or not your child’s symptoms are related to the school’s indoor air quality.

How Do You Test Air Quality in Schools

Did you know that the EPA does not require schools to monitor their air quality? The Environmental Working Group elaborated on the current testing procedures currently conducted in schools today when it comes to indoor air quality problems. They stated the following; “The EPA does not require schools to monitor their air quality, submit information about it or even use the voluntary tools, so it’s important for parents to speak up if this is an issue in their children’s school.” When it comes to indoor air quality problems that may be an issue in a school, the main areas to focus on will include improving HVAC systems, maintaining filters and carbon monoxide detectors, controlling moisture and mold, managing pests, and carefully selecting safe building materials and cleaners.

In a school that is concerned about indoor air quality or that has been presented by a parent or school official that there may be issues related to poor IAQ in this structure, proper testing should be conducted to determine the pollutant levels in the school. Testing the indoor air quality in a school can be easier than what school officials may believe, all with the help of smart indoor air quality monitors. The Airthings Wave Plus Indoor Air Quality Monitor with Radon Detection is a great option for commercial spaces such as schools, for monitoring indoor air pollutant levels.

Airthings Wave Plus is the first ever smart indoor air quality monitor with radon detection, designed for homes and all populated spaces. A clean air detector enabling you to gain full visibility into six factors; radon, airborne chemicals (TVOCs), carbon dioxide (CO2) humidity, temperature and air pressure. Radon is the leading cause of lung cancer among non-smokers. Protect your family by ensuring harmful radon gas levels stay low by monitoring daily. Breathe easy knowing your air is free of toxins and chemicals (VOCs) found in everyday items. Airthings Wave Plus is Battery operated allowing you to install anywhere, with 16 months battery life using Bluetooth.

Airthings Wave Plus gives you complete control over your indoor air quality via the free mobile app and online Dashboard with advanced Analytics options. Getting started with the Airthings Wave app is easy, create your free profile and then follow the setup guide in the Airthings App. Please allow for a 7-Day settling period for the sensors to adjust to their new environment and to observe a typical cycle of air quality, based on your activity within a 1 week period Many Airthings products are smart home devices that works with Alexa, Google Assistant and IFTTT (if this then that) giving you an integrated clean air experience.

Air Purifiers for Schools

Air purification is the single best way to treat and remove pollutants such as chemicals, VOC’s, and particulate matter from the air of a school. When placing air purification solutions in an indoor environment like a school, the need for multiple air quality products will be needed in the space such as HVAC filters and air purifiers that are designed to work against toxic and noxious odors and chemicals. In addition, schools can be a breeding ground for bacteria, germs, and other microorganisms (like mold spores). As these pathogens begin their production in this indoor environment it can have an impact on the air quality and on the health of the students and staff that spend large amounts of time in this school environment during the week.

The EnviroKlenz UV Air Purifier is a highly-effective air purification device that is designed to filter out not only the fine particulate matter with the utilization of a hospital-grade HEPA filter as the second stage of filtration, but it also provides the capability to contain and neutralize a broad spectrum of toxic chemicals as well. Additionally, positioned between these two filters are UVC lights that work to effectively eradicate collected microorganisms on the HEPA filter, providing deactivation and destruction capabilities to bacteria, viruses, and mold spores. The EnviroKlenz patented earth mineral technology was engineered to safely and effectively contain, collect, and neutralize chemical compounds and odors from the airspace to provide healthier air quality and safer environments for human health. In addition, the EnviroKlenz Air Purifier works in-conjunction with the EnviroKlenz HVAC filters to impactfully clean the indoor air rapidly, with both air quality solutions utilizing the proprietary EnviroKlenz technology.

Therefore, integrating an air purification device that covers chemical and odor neutralization, airborne particulate removal, and UVC lights for microorganism destruction will be a triple threat air filtration product for any school environment to control air quality levels and reduce health risks to the school’s students.

Article Sources:

  1. United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA); Take Action to Improve Indoor Air Quality in Schools (link)
  2. Building and Environment Journal: Indoor Air Quality in Classrooms: Environmental Measures and Effective Ventilation Rate Modeling in Urban Elementary Schools (link)
  3. United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA): How Big a Problem is Poor Indoor Air Quality in Schools? (link)
  4. Healthy Schools Network: Parent’s Guide to School Indoor Air Quality (link)
  5. Indoor Doctor: Our Children’s Schools Indoor Air Quality Issues: How Indoor Pollution Affects Health and Learning (link)
  6. Environmental Working Group (EWG): How to Improve Air Quality at Your Children’s School (link)

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