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Indoor Air Quality Affects Performance in School

Posted on September 18, 2012
by Wendy Stackhouse


With testing and test preparation taking up so many academic instruction hours and many districts scheduling furlough days to save on their budgets, students in US public schools cannot afford to waste a minute. And every day a teacher needs a substitute because of illness is a less productive day, no matter how skilled the substitute.

What pollutes the air in school?

Low ventilation rates cause many contaminants to remain in the air at school facilities, including:

  • Mold from moisture and water damage that goes unrepaired for too long (mold growth can begin in as little as 24 hours)
  • Animal dander from classroom pets
  • Dirt or water in HVAC systems, which can spread bacteria which cause disease
  • Formaldehyde and other VOC’s in building materials and school supplies
  • Allergenic chemicals in cleaning products
  • Chemicals in air fresheners and hand sanitizers used to “improve” the indoor environment
  • Pollutants from outdoors that cannot escape including vehicle exhaust from cars and buses

What are the results of poor indoor air quality in schools?

Nearly 80% of Chicago and Washington, DC teachers surveyed reported that indoor air quality is an important factor in teaching quality.

Poor air quality reduces teacher effectiveness and student test scores.

Contaminated air increases rates of illness, asthma attacks, allergic reactions and absenteeism, all of which lead to lower performance.

Among the many factors which can help or hurt our students do well in school, air quality is one that we can definitely improve upon. Keeping ventilation systems, including ducts and coils, clean and well maintained is essential to healthy air quality in schools. Read more about how teachers and parents can improve the air quality at school on the AirTek blog!

Great thanks to the IAQA for this informative video upon which this article was based.

Wendy Stackhouse is the Online Community Manager for AirTek and our parent company, Alliance Environmental Group, which offers residential and commercial cleaning, pest control, demolition, structural pasteurization and many other enviromental challenges. She has two Middle Schoolers.

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