What Kind of Air Students Breathe at School—and How it Affects Their Academic Performance?

What Kind of Air Students Breathe at School—and How it Affects Their Academic Performance?

When it comes to the topic of students, most of us would agree that it is important to protect them at all costs. Despite this, tens of millions of students and teachers across North America are currently facing concerns associated with indoor air quality (IAQ) and the potential complications that come from consistent exposure to poor air quality. In this article, we will explore the quality of air in schools and what it means for academic performance.

How Classroom Microclimates Vary

Like the students inside them, every classroom is different. The IAQ of a classroom will naturally vary in response to factors present both inside and outside of the classroom. Nearby road traffic and other anthropogenic activities can contribute to emissions of nitrogen dioxide (NO2), worsening conditions inside of schools.

There are environmental factors and influences within the classroom that can contribute to a buildup of dangerous emissions as well. Radon gas can come from underground cavities, and toxic chemicals like formaldehyde, toluene, and benzene can be released directly into the air by common classroom materials, including furniture, detergents, paint, and even the building materials used in schools.

The Number of Students Can Increase Carbon Dioxide in the Classroom—What Does This Mean?

Classroom sizes have been a topic of debate for quite some time. Even though the focus is generally on the right number of students for learning, there might be more to this discussion than previously believed. The addition of a single student in a classroom naturally increases the amount of carbon dioxide (CO2) present in the room when they breathe. As more students are added, the concentration of CO2 increases, and when the acceptable threshold of 0.15 percentage volume of CO2 is exceeded, a variety of negative outcomes become possible.

Complications Associated With Poor Air Quality

Since the actual components within the air can vary, the symptoms associated with poor air quality can also differ. An excess of CO2, for example, can lead to symptoms like headaches, nausea, poor memory, restlessness, and even panic attacks—all of which are counterproductive in a learning environment. One study actually found that higher concentrations of CO2 were correlated with lower attendance, lower test scores, and lower short-term attention performance.

Particulate matter is another concern that can cause issues for students in classrooms. Like CO2 levels, particulate matter can increase as the number of students in the room increases and those students introduce new matter. This matter can cause a variety of problems, including shortness of breath, lung irritation, and threats to the nose, eyes, and throat.

Volatile organic compounds (VOCs), like Radon, can cause irritation for the eyes, nose, and throat, and they are also linked to problems with focusing, concentration, and energy—even at low concentrations. Knowing this, it is easy to see just how damaging these compounds can be. A good number of them remain unidentified by the average person since they are colorless and odorless, but the negative impacts are still felt.

How We Can Solve This Problem

Studies involving the IAQ of classrooms and school performance have continuously determined that effective ventilation is directly associated with better academic performance and higher academic achievements. Schools need to ensure that hazardous materials are removed from the air in classrooms, and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is already making moves to address these concerns.

Removing these dangerous emissions can be managed with the use of appropriate filtration systems. By installing high-performance filters, air purifiers that neutralize fine dust, and air decontamination filters that target micro-organisms, all students can have clean air that improves their minds, combats disease, and encourages them to reach their academic potential.

Make sure to visit our website to learn more about our products and how they can improve the IAQ inside your classrooms.

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