With kids rushing back to school, amidst dusting boards, leaky roofs and rough playground time, indoor air quality in schools is something we all need to pay attention to. Did you know that the presence of dead skin cells, chalk and paper dust can increase the levels of PM 2.5, 10 and 1.5 respectively? In fact, The Case of indoor pollution has grown to such an alarming proportion, that air pollution alone almost kills one lakh children under the age of 5 annually in our country.
IAQ in schools
In a wide range of Studies conducted by Environmental Protection Agency and its Science Advisory Boards, it was computed that indoor air pollutions ranked among the top 5 environmental risks to public health. Good Indoor Air Quality (IAQ) is, therefore, a prerequisite for any indoor environment especially those that are within the likes of many young children. So, why is it necessary to maintain IAQ in schools? A good indoor air quality environment creates a nurturing and favorable environment for students augmenting their performances along with promoting wellness, calm and comfort. However, failure to maintain a proper IAQ can lead to a case for problems which can triple fold in the future causing serious health concerns while also rendering poor academic performance.
Impacts of poor indoor conditions can start with short-term effects as coughs, headaches, sneezing, eye & skin irritation and other allergic reactions, which in turn can escalate to serious health scares like nausea, dizziness, respiratory illness, asthma and other rare conditions like Legionnaire diseases, etc.
Impact of Poor IAQ
Another cause of concern is that indoor air pollution can cause for symptoms and impacts which may very well be subtle and common, that diagnosing one from other cases and treating it may very well take a long time, long enough to escalate.
Also, the varying nature of the effects of IAQ on different individuals makes it all the more taxing to find, with students and staffs having varying sensitivities and immunity levels. What can cause a set of symptoms in one may totally differ with another. In that sense, some individuals may find themselves being more prone to detrimental effects of air pollutions especially those with asthma, allergies, prior respiratory diseases, and those with suppressed immune systems.
Other factions that could be also be susceptible to the damages of indoor air pollution could be those with heart diseases, who may have an increased reaction from exposure to carbon monoxide than healthy counterparts etc. or those who have been exposed to particular contaminant or agent which in turn make them susceptible to respiratory defects or so. To prevent this, it is best to ensure a systemic measure to regulate the pollutants altogether.
Additionally, schools have an added incentive to provide for clean indoor air as its inhabitants that are mostly growing children with developing bodies have higher risks of running into diseases and pollution-related illness. Bad air quality can also affect the development of endocrine glands and crucial body systems such as nervous and immune system, which in turn can lead to the spread of infections and illnesses such as cold and flu. Thereby, with schools, proper maintenance doesn’t just limit to be a quality related parameter but also extends to the overall wellness, safety of children and staffs while also boding well for their future.
IAQ and performance
Studies have evidenced that indoor air quality is not just related to health-related issues but can also have a decisive impact on the performance of wards and staffs in the premises.
- • It can affect student performance, comfort and also lead to a decline in attendance owing to health issues.
- • Reduce teacher performance leading to a deteriorated student-teacher relationship.
- • Reduce the efficiency of working system of school due to an increase in potential closings or change of occupants and venues. It can also limit working hours due to stress and heat.
- • Create a negative relation among the varied working bodies, from parents, teachers, and admin and also impact community trust.
- • Can create accountability problems for schools with the lack of proper studying environment.
So what exactly are the chief contaminants of Indoor air pollution? Let’s find out.
- • Allergens
- • Volatile organic compounds
- • Airborne Particles
- • Mold
Controlling Indoor Air Quality
By removing the source of pollution one can control the nature of pollutants. To cut down VOC, pens, glues, markers need to be closed when not in use and also paints, furnishing and cleaning supplies used in school premises should be devoid of VOC. Installing air purifiers can also aid in improving air quality.
Another strategy to be followed involves inducing proper ventilation such as proper HVAC systems which can guarantee a steady supply of fresh air and continuous air circulation can augment indoor conditions.
Attention also needs to be paid to the nature of outdoor air owing to the fact, that indoor air is interspersed with outside air through windows, doors and ventilation systems. Due to which, pollution from traffic and transportation grounds and ground maintenance activities need to be carefully considered and regulated to ensure wellness both inside and outside.
But apart from contaminants, temperature and humidity play a pivotal role in deciding the quality of indoor environments. Thermal comfort translates to ‘better air quality’ and increased attention span, therefore maintaining an apt temperature and moisture level indoors is another important criteria schools need to undertake to ensure top-notch air quality. HVAC systems can aid the same, keeping moisture levels in control and preventing mold growth, etc.
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