How does indoor air quality affect academic performance?

Nearly 55 million Americans, primarily children, spend their days inside K-12 schools, according to The School Superintendents Association.

Remarkably, the organization also reports that nearly half the nation’s schools suffer from poor indoor air quality (IAQ).

How are facility managers tackling this issue and effectively targeting problem areas?

The state of indoor air quality in schools

Many schools across the nation have IAQ issues caused by a wide range of building conditions, including:

  • Poor ventilation
  • Lack of humidity control
  • Indoor and outdoor pesticides
  • Water damage
  • Airborne germs, pollen, volatile organic compounds and other particulate

In addition schools can quickly become hubs for spreading the influenza virus and other seasonal illnesses due to high traffic in shared spaces.

Absenteeism and academic performance

Poor IAQ can negatively affect academic focus on a day-to-day basis, while simultaneously contributing to increased absences and hurting long-term academic performance.

Polluted air can make learning environments uncomfortable for students and teachers by causing symptoms such as watery eyes, congestion, coughing, headaches, nausea and dizziness that detract from a student’s classroom focus. In time, this can lead to illnesses that cause unnecessary absenteeism.

IAQ-related issues are of particular concern for students with chronic breathing problems and severe allergies. For example, the Environmental Protection Agency has found that asthma-related illnesses account for more than 14 million missed school days each year.

When Hinsdale Middle School in Hinsdale, IL installed four AeraMax Professional units, it targeted similar issues. For example, one student was facing constant discomfort in the science lab where the student spent most of each school day. After the AeraMax Pro was placed in the classroom, the issue disappeared, to the relief of the student’s parents, as well as the middle school’s principal and facility manager.

Improving our students’ air

Creating healthy and safe learning environments for students, teachers and staff requires a robust approach to IAQ. An integral part of this process is removing germs and toxic particles from the air, specifically in bacteria hubs such as bathrooms, locker rooms and classrooms.

Schools need to address the problem at its source by:

  • Minimizing mold exposure and excess moisture
  • Eliminating the usage of toxic cleaning agents
  • Maintaining temperature and humidity at safe levels
  • Ensuring that all ventilation equipment is performing optimally
  • Implementing effective dusting, vacuuming and garbage disposal practices

That’s why schools like Hinsdale Middle School are installing commercial air purifiers to target problem areas. These systems ensure effective odor and germ removal and preserve a safe and clean learning environment for students, teachers and staff.