Indoor air quality is fast becoming a major concern for parents of school-aged children. Environmental dangers such as pollution from wildfires to potential disease transmission can have a serious impact on air quality both inside and outside of the educational facility. In this article, we will look at how these air quality issues can be managed and the benefits of learning in an environment where the air quality is managed correctly.
Why Indoor Air Quality Matters
Studies indicate that we spend roughly 90% of the average day indoors. Indoor air can be up to five times more polluted than the air outside. Because children are extremely sensitive to air quality and spend the bulk of their days indoors in a school setting, it becomes even more important to improve and monitor air quality.
How Air Quality Can Be Monitored
Measuring and tracking devices known as data loggers are effective in monitoring air quality. These portable, battery-operated devices come in various models equipped with either onboard sensors or external probes. These sensors or probes gather various pieces of data on such environmental conditions as temperature, humidity, and CO2 levels. Some models contain alert systems that are triggered if measurements depart from pre-set parameters. The data collected can be downloaded to a computer or smartphone for analysis. This information forms the basis of evidence to adjust whatever air quality system is in place.
The Benefits of Good Indoor Air Quality in Schools
There are many advantages to having proper air quality inside a learning environment. Here is a look at the most common benefits.
It Improves Attendance Figures
Better ventilation in classrooms improves school attendance. And better attendance translates to higher grades for both elementary and middle school students. They also score better on academic exams.
It Helps to Support Better Health
Research points to poor indoor air quality harming the overall health of individuals exposed to it. For example:
- Wheezing among children has been linked to elevated levels of CO2
- Individuals with asthma and allergies can be affected by poor indoor air quality
- A condition known as Sick Building Syndrome in children results from poor indoor air quality. The symptoms are headaches, sore throats, and lethargy.
- Bacteria and dust mites thrive in high humidity and can irritate respiratory systems
It Encourages Better Teaching and Learning
Improved indoor air quality improves students’ concentration, cognitive skills, and engagement. Some of the proven academic results of good indoor air quality include:
- Quicker completion of tasks (language-based and numeric) in 10 to 12-year-olds
- Improved reading and math scores in elementary school-aged students
- Quicker and more accurate responses to picture memory, color, and word recognition for primary school-aged children.
In addition, teachers and faculty felt better and more valued which resulted in improved performance. Reported by Dickson Data, poor indoor air quality where temperatures, CO2, and humidity are high, and ventilation is low, all combine to negatively impact how students, teachers, and staff feel and perform.
It Shows Responsibility and Compassion
Studies show that parents seek reassurance that the well-being of their children in school is a high priority. They indicate that 91% of those parents feel the air quality their children are exposed to directly impacts their health. When school districts upgrade the air systems and ventilation within their educational facilities, it is a clear signal to these parents that their children do matter and that their wellbeing is valued.
It Boosts Operational Efficiency
Devices that monitor CO2 levels produce data that schools and other educational institutions can use to make improvements within the operations of these sites, creating environments with higher efficiency rates. For example:
- Heat, air, and venting is only on when classrooms and other rooms are in use
- Food prep in the cafeteria is connected to student attendance to reduce waste
- Cleaning schedules altered to address high traffic areas first
- Timetables are corrected to focus on better use of available space
It Helps to Monitor Indoor Air Quality
It is easy to say that there are many benefits to having improved indoor air quality. However, it’s important to have the proper tools in place to monitor and track the air quality. There are guidelines and protocols related to proper ventilation in indoor settings, and monitoring devices can verify that these standards are being met and always maintained. Remember, air quality in the school setting is more than temperature, humidity, and CO2 levels. Pollutants range from smoke and airborne particles to bacteria and other harmful germs. A proper filtering system can address those items, but monitoring is still required to show that the indoor air quality is good and continues to be.
Children are the most susceptible when it comes to the effects of poor indoor air quality. They spend most of the day inside a school building. That building should have proper ventilation and controlled temperature and humidity. Data loggers can monitor and track these environmental conditions. They produce data that can be analyzed, and some contain systems that can issue an alert when conditions deteriorate. The importance of good indoor air quality in schools is proven with many benefits that are realized by both students, and their teachers and staff. Plus, with proper filtering and ventilation, the likelihood of sickness spreading within a school building is greatly reduced. For a better learning environment, assess your indoor air quality and see if it needs improvement.