Schools Are Vulnerable to Poor Air Quality, Which Can Affect Student Performance and Health
New research is highlighting poor air quality in schools and the effects of air pollution on students, USA Today reported.
Air quality is especially terrible when school buses are idling, according to Patrick Ryan, researcher at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center and lead author of the study.
“The concentration of air pollutants near schools often significantly exceeds background levels in the community, particularly when idling school buses are present,” Ryan said.
The study shows fine particles that measure 2.5 micrometers in diameter and smaller are concentrated in the air while buses and cars are loading and unloading passengers. Ryan is also author of a study that found a connection between outdoor pollutants and indoor air quality. He said air quality was generally good at the four schools he studied, but there was a difference in the quality of air inside if outdoor air pollution was reduced.
EPA Links Outdoor Pollutants With Indoor Air Quality
Ryan’s study is also supported by studies cited by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) that list outdoor pollutants or vehicle exhaust as a cause of poor indoor air quality in schools. Other causes of indoor air quality problems include moisture and water damage, animal and other biological allergens, low ventilation rates and cleaning product chemicals. Air cleaners could lower the amount of pollutants causing indoor air quality problems and potential negative health effects.
The EPA cited scientific studies that state indoor air quality problems can lead to respiratory infections as well as adverse reactions to chemicals. The result of indoor air quality issues includes negative health effects in students as well as lowered ability to learn.
“Research links key environmental factors to health outcomes and students’ ability to perform,” according to the EPA on the effects of indoor air quality and student performance. “Improvements in school environmental quality can enhance academic performance, as well as teacher and staff productivity and retention.”
Despite schools and educational facilities having a variety of pollutant sources to control, there are different ways they can clean up indoor air quality. In order to help improve students’ ability to perform, schools could increase their outdoor air ventilation rates or eliminate the sources of pollutants, according to studies listed by the EPA. Studies also indicate reducing the amount of airborne particles, such as through air purification systems, could improve the health and comfort of building occupants.
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