The importance of good ventilation within schools has been recognised for many years however, there are a number of schools that are still failing to meet the most basic levels of indoor air quality (IAQ).
As the Government strives to achieve its’ carbon reduction targets, there has been a shift towards “zero-leakage” and airtight buildings have become standard across the building industry. With the focus on making buildings more energy efficient, it has been said that this is responsible, at least in part, for a legacy of poor indoor air quality (IAQ).
Worryingly, the problem seems most serious in schools; and with growing evidence now showing that there are links between outbreaks of winter flu and poor classroom IAQ it has naturally given rise to serious concerns about the long-term health implications for children. Part of the problem is that the unique design and use of school buildings can exacerbate the impact of poor quality indoor air. Asthma, for example, is a well-known risk of indoor air pollution, but it is also a risk that grows as space becomes more densely packed with individuals. And educational facilities tend to be particularly densely populated.
Poor ventilation is a serious issue, excessive condensation can cause mould growth, leading to cosmetic and structural damage to the fabric of the building, which can lead to extremely poor IAQ. This then causes potential health issues for the buildings occupants.
In recent years, the health effects of poor IAQ have been gaining increased attention. Air pollution (both indoor and outdoor) has been linked to heart disease, cancer, and serious respiratory conditions. In 2013, the International Agency for Research on Cancer — an arm of the World Health Organization (WHO), classified air pollution as a Group 1 human carcinogen. WHO estimates that indoor air pollution — the result of harmful particles within indoor environments, as well as outdoor pollutants that seep inside — was responsible for some 4.3 million deaths worldwide in 2012. Continue reading