How To Improve Indoor Air Quality In Schools
An integrated approach to air quality in schools beyond COVID-19
Over the last few years, issues that affect the health of our school children such as nutrition and exercise have been receiving a great deal of focus,1 but the importance of providing quality indoor air to avoid illness, improve health and wellbeing, the ability to learn and thrive, has only recently received the attention it deserves.
There are many reasons why indoor air quality is important for students and teachers alike in school settings. The quality of the air affects students’ health and comfort, their ability to learn, and the levels of absenteeism.
It’s reported that 1 in 10 Australian children suffer from asthma, a condition made worse by poor indoor air quality.
In recent years, comparative risk studies performed by EPA's Science Advisory Board (SAB) in the USA have consistently ranked indoor air pollution among the top five environmental risks to public health. Good indoor air quality is an important component of a healthy indoor environment and can help schools reach their primary goal of educating children4.
COVID-19 saw many students learning from home for months at a time, and the knowledge that airborne pathogens are largely responsible for the virus’s transmission became widely known. The chance of outbreaks from school communities became more of a concern.
As students return to schooling away from home, the knowledge of indoor air quality and how to clean, ventilate and monitor the air is becoming an imperative for old and new school buildings alike.
Our recommendation is always to look at an integrated approach. What are the current systems for air quality and ventilation in the school? How can they be improved?
How Can Schools Create Healthy Buildings?
Although disinfecting and cleaning surfaces will always be part of the protocol in any school, according to a nature.com article recently published,5 current transmission of COVID-19 is not as much through surfaces but through aerosol and airborne pathogens. In the early days of the global pandemic it was thought that the virus was transmitted via surface contamination (the cost of deep cleaning across the US market is thought to have jumped by 30% in 2020), but
“Now that it is agreed that the virus transmits through the air, in both large and small droplets, efforts to prevent spread should focus on improving ventilation or installing rigorously tested air purifiers.” (nature.com)6
Airborne transmission means poor ventilation is likely to contribute to infections,7 so minimising airborne transmission is critical.
Think of quality indoor air as a system. We recommend analysing and measuring the quality of the air as a logical first step to improving how current systems of cleaning and ventilation are taking place, and to highlight where improvements can be made. Ongoing monitoring is then critical to maintain any practices or systems that are in place.
An integrated and whole building solution works best to analyse, clean and continuously monitor indoor air quality. Simple updates to current systems could include a change of cleaning schedule, or perhaps more regularly changing filters. These are all budget conscious actions schools can take to have a big impact on the health and wellbeing of the teachers, administrators and students alike.
The IAQ Ventilation Management System
IAQ Ventilation provides world class equipment that tests, monitors and cleans indoor air for your staff and students. With over 25 years of expertise, we can recommend solutions that prevent pathogens, viruses, bacteria, mould, particles and odours – from portable units to ventilation systems. We provide solutions that boost the efficiency of your HVAC systems and bring energy savings.
Our Indoor Air Quality Management System includes IAQ Analysis, IAQ Ventilation and Air Cleaning, and IAQ Monitoring creating indoor environments that promote health for you, your team, your teachers and students.
Analysis & Measurement
We provide world class technical equipment that analyse, assess, test and measure indoor air – airborne particulates, concentrated pollutants, temperature and humidity. Our solutions include particle counters, data loggers, thermal imaging, temperature and humidity sensors. Speak to our technical specialists and visit our product range.
Ventilate & Clean
Our range of ventilation units/systems and air purifiers are there to provide clean and healthy air – our expert sales and technical team can advise you on the best systems or portable units. We stock air cleaners, air purifiers and dehumidifiers that neutralise pathogens, remove pollutants and moisture thus reducing the accumulation of moisture, odour and other gasses – to deliver clean air.
Our solutions help boost the efficiency of your HVAC systems, lowering energy costs (proven up to 30%) and improving your carbon footprint, whilst creating safe and energy efficient indoor spaces. Learn more
Monitoring & Reporting
Optimise the health of indoor spaces with our cutting-edge smart systems, sensor technology, with continuous and accurate measurements. Our innovative and cost-effective sensors/monitors keep track of air borne pollutants for occupants’ health, safety, productivity and wellness. Learn more or get in touch for a consultation to discuss your unique needs.
What Schools Can Do Next
Ensure the issue of indoor air quality is on the agenda at your next school council meeting and raise the issue with your education department. Contact IAQ Ventilation for more information about our consulting services and products that can assist in making the indoor air quality in your school the best it can be for the health and wellbeing of your students and staff.