Many schools are placed in old buildings with antiquated ventilation and heating systems, or newly built/remodeled facilities that are too “air tight”, to help with keeping the heat in.
Every year, there is an overabundance of these institutions that need help with their mold problems too.
The 3 pillars of a healthy IAQ: Ventilation, Air Filtration, and Air Quality Monitoring
Why ventilation and air filtration are equally important
Especially in schools, cognitive skills and deep learning are crucial for mental development. Issues arrive when the CO2 levels rise in classrooms due to inadequate ventilation systems. When that happens in an environment, our brains suffer.
In a 2012 study, schools in California and Texas have shown to regularly exceed 2,000 ppm during the daytime.
Even if we meet the most stringent targets set at the Paris agreements in 2015, scientific predictions calculate that in 2100, an average atmospheric CO2 level of 660 ppm will diminish the average brainpower by 15 %. Additionally, the “green” insulation used to improve the heat retention within buildings also raises the levels of the CO2 trapped inside.
How air filtration expands the protection that ventilation offers
Along with ventilation, a dedicated air filtration system is the most beneficial way to successfully protect students and staff from all types of air particles. Inhaling air particles can wreak havoc on our immune systems and interfere with our daily agendas, including learning. Symptoms can range from suffering from pollen allergies, to serious asthmatic, respiratory, and cognitive issues.
In the colder months, airborne viruses and bacteria can sweep through a school in no time, affecting attendance, learning and inconveniencing the agenda of many; from parents having to stay home from work, to the economic cost of sick children and staff. Having an air filtration system is proven to significantly reduce the spread of germs and viruses. Having cleaner air quality also improves alertness and cognitive skills.
A dedicated air filtration system also has the ability to also capture airborne mold spores; Spores that may be growing in unclean, ventilation shafts, or in/on walls and ceilings.
The correlation with mold issues and schools have unfortunately become synonymous with each other. Pages upon pages of reports can be found online documenting results of children's life threatening respiratory infections and diseases directly linked to molds, like aspergillus fumigatus found in classrooms of schools. These molds can be hiding in the walls, which make them hard to detect unless tested for. Sometimes they may also get released when schools remodel without taking the needed precautions. Most mold issues stem from damp areas caused by humidity, water damage, and poor ventilation.
The World Health Organization states that one of the best ways to lower indoor humidity levels is to increase ventilation.
If the main goal is to have a safe environment for the children and staff to be in, what do schools need to do in order to pass in air quality?
- Students and staff should report to the headmaster/principal if any of their environments within the school have a specific, “musty” odor, as many common strains of mold emit microbial VOCs (Volatile Organic Compounds).
- School heads must educate themselves with the statistics and evidence on the dangers of poor ventilation and air filtration in the classroom
- Schools should have their air quality checked by a professional, preferably during months when the windows are closed to get a realistic reading.
- Every school should offer adequate ventilation, as well as a dedicated air filtration system (air purifiers) to clean all types of air particles.
- Implementing air quality monitors in specific areas to monitor the air particles (PM 10, PM 2.5, molds, CO2 levels, etc
- Parents of students should investigate immediately if their children symptoms of fatigue, headaches, and breathing difficulties that linger.
To learn more about air quality solutions for schools, or get your air quality tested, contact QleanAir Scandinavia here:
The Guardian: Air pollution rots our brains. Is that why we don’t do anything about it?
AMI Environmental: Hidden Mold in Schools
Gordon Mycology Laboratory Inc.: Mold plagues school