Indoor air quality in schools

Indoor air quality in schools has received particular attention in recent years, as children spend a large proportion of their indoor time at school. Indoor air pollution in schools is a combined effect of physical, chemical and biological factors, and depends on the level of environmental ventilation. The internal air within schools is often of poor quality. Schools are often poorly ventilated (as demonstrated by elevated CO2 levels) and several pollutants have been found in classrooms, such as bacteria, moulds, VOCs and PM. Associations have been reported among the concentrations of pollutants and the onset of health problems in schoolchildren, mainly respiratory/allergic symptoms and diseases.

Direct comparison of studies is seldom possible because of different methodologies. However, two multicentre European studies using the same standardised procedure have provided data from different countries. Figure 4 shows the average 1-day indoor PM10 concentration, as measured inside the classrooms in the EU-funded Health Effects of School Environment (HESE) study and the School Environment And Respiratory Health of Children (SEARCH) study, promoted by the Regional Environmental Centre for Central and Eastern Europe (REC) (search.rec.org/search1/ documents.html).

See the entire Indoor environment Chapter