Indoor Air Quality – In a year children will spend an average of 1,300 hours in school buildings, where teachers, administrators and other school personnel will concentrate on helping them learn and grow. That means more than just developing curriculum. It also means making sure their schools provide a safe, healthy environment.
Over the years, issues that affect the health of our schoolchildren such as nutrition and exercise have been receiving a great deal of focus. Unfortunately another matter that has a tremendous impact on a student’s ability to succeed has been largely overlooked — Indoor Air Quality (IAQ). In order to be successful, students must have clean, healthy air to breathe. Not only can poor IAQ cause illnesses that keep them home from school, but recent findings have also shown that it may directly reduce their ability to learn.
Clean air is crucial for student success
Children are particularly vulnerable to harmful and irritating air contaminants such as microbiological pollutants, allergens, chemicals and ultrafine particles. Their lung development is directly affected by air pollution. Exposure to polluted air during these developing years has been associated to decreased respiratory function later in life. Increasing reports of asthma among school age children have been directly linked to elevated air pollution exposure.
Studies have associated poor Indoor Air Quality with a decrease in students’ ability to perform specific mental tasks requiring concentration, calculation and memory.
Taking action to affect change
Parents can take action to make sure their children are breathing clean, healthy air in every classroom. These are some questions parents should be asking the administration at their children’s schools:
Is the school inspecting and maintaining their HVAC systems regularly?
Are there routine inspections for moisture and mould? Have they established prevention and remediation plans?
Is the maintenance staff cleaning and removing dust with a damp cloth and vacuuming daily?
Is school choosing safe cleaning products, building materials and furniture that do not release harmful chemicals?