A Teachers guide to Indoor Air Quality – Why IAQ is important in schools

Indoor Air Quality is an important issue in schools for many reasons. Poor Indoor Air Quality (IAQ) in school buildings has both short and long term negative effects on the health of young children and their ability concentrate to learn well.

Indoor Air Quality a teachers guide


As a teacher it is important to make children aware that their health can be affected by what they touch and come in contact with, in their environment both at school and at home.

What children eat, what they drink, what air they breathe, these are all important to their health and feeling well.  We can all live many days without food, a few days without drinking, but only a few minutes without breathing. Breathing air free from pollution with the correct levels of oxygen and carbon dioxide is crucial to keep us alive and alert from one minute to the next.  Oxygen is very important to people young and old and enables our brains and bodies to work effectively. We also need to breathe out carbon dioxide as it is a waste product for people but helps plants to thrive. Indoor plants located in the school building can help improve indoor air quality.

Low levels of oxygen in the air along with raised levels of air pollution can make children feel sleepy and even sick. Their ability to concentrate and think clearly will be reduced.

In school building classrooms the  is important. Its job is to supply clean air at the correct temperature and humidity and change the air sufficiently often to maintain oxygen levels and dilute carbon dioxide.

Outside air has therefore to be introduced into the building. Outside air in cities, towns and centres of population contains air pollution that is especially damaging to the health of growing school children. This pollution can be reduced if air filters selected to EN13779:2007 recommendations (F7 to F9 class) are fitted in your ventilation and air conditioning system.

The main indicators of air quality are:

  1. Temperature:    Comfort zone  18 – 24 deg.C.
  2. Humidity:            40 – 60% Relative Humidity
  3. Cleanliness:        PM2.5 Less than 10 micrograms per M3 fine particulates with low levels of gas pollutants
  4. Adequate ventilation to ensure oxygen levels are kept up and carbon dioxide levels are reduced.

Schools and other educational facilities present unique problems to designers and HVAC practitioners. Most schools are diverse structures with different requirements for classrooms, sportshalls, locker rooms, canteens, corridors and assembly rooms.

The quality of the air is measured by temperature and humidity, and by the concentration of particulates and gaseous contaminants. Adverse health effects from poor indoor air quality, documented in educational facilities, range from annoyance and respiratory irritation to acute or chronic illness. When classrooms are properly controlled for comfort, and are free of excessive contaminants, the learning environment is enhanced and becomes more productive.

Good indoor air quality in educational facilities:

  • Reduces absenteeism for students and staff
  • Reduces building deterioration and improves energy efficiency
  • Reduces outside air ventilation requirements
  • Prevents strained relationships resulting from poor indoor air quality
  • Reduces liabilities
  • And most importantly, protect students, one of our important investments in the future

 More information: See: Why indoor air quality is important for personal health – This article goes into detail on the effect that indoor air quality issues can have on young and older people not just physically but also mentally. The REHVA guide on Indoor Climate and Productivity in Offices is a useful source of information.

One thought on “A Teachers guide to Indoor Air Quality – Why IAQ is important in schools

  1. It is amazing what a little fresh air does. It is especially important today with how “tight” buildings are to have fresh air. Some of the bullet points one would imagine could have no impact but it does. It also reduces headaches, are more alert and have increased productivity.

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