Having good indoor air quality in schools is more than a "quality" issue - it is necessary for a safe and healthy learning and work environment. Indoor air quality is especially important in schools for two reasons:
- Staff and students spend extended periods of time indoors and are potentially exposed to a variety of indoor air pollutants - in both new and older schools.
- Poor indoor air quality can impact children’s health and development. Children's bodies are still developing and not as resistant to the effects of poor indoor air quality. Indoor air problems can be subtle and do not always have easily recognizable impacts on health or well-being.
Good indoor air quality contributes to an effective learning environment for students, as well as productivity for teachers and staff.
Air Quality at Your Child’s School
Diagnosing symptoms that relate to indoor air quality can be tricky. Acute (short-term) symptoms of indoor air quality problems are typically similar to those from colds, allergies, fatigue, or the flu. However, there are some clues that can indicate potential indoor air problems:
- widespread symptoms within a class or within the school, potentially indicating a ventilation problem
- disappearing symptoms that go away when students and staff leave for the day
- sudden onset symptoms that occur after some change at school, such as painting or pesticide application
- localized symptoms – people with allergies, asthma, or chemical sensitivities have reactions only inside the school, not outdoors
- diagnosis – a doctor has diagnosed a student or staff member with an indoor air-related illness
What You Can Do:
Fixing Air Quality Issues at School
If your child, or someone else you know, has symptoms that you believe may be related to their school's indoor air environment, contact a school official. Whether or not the school has a known problem, encourage the school to examine its facilities.
To learn more about indoor air quality in schools contact your local Lung Association.