Exposure to air pollutants during infancy can result in reduced lung function by school age

 Children who have lived in areas where there are increased concentrations of air pollutants during the first few years of their life have a greater risk of developing protracted lower airway obstruction symptoms and allergies. Children also risk having reduced lung function by the time they reach school age. These are the findings of new research that was presented recently at the Allergistämman (“Allergy Meeting”) event in Gothenburg, Sweden.

Indoor Air Quality in Schools 

Respiratory diseases are an important reason for ill health in children that can be caused or worsened by air pollutants. A new study conducted by the Institute of Environmental Medicine at the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm now indicates that exposure to air pollutants from road traffic during the first year of life increases the risk of protracted lower airway obstruction symptoms and allergies to outdoor allergens. Exposure also has a negative impact on the lung function of children four years old. Similar analyses were recently made in a follow-up study of children eight years old.

The results of the research indicated that children who were exposed the most to particles from road traffic during infancy had reduced lung function by the age of eight, corresponding to an average reduction of approximately 60 ml in the volume of exhaled air for one second (FEV1 ratio). The reduction in lung function was especially pronounced in children who were allergic to ordinary airborne allergens and food allergens, as well as in boys and children with asthma. For children who were exposed the most to particles, there was also an increased risk of suffering from a sharp reduction in lung function (more than a 20-percent reduction).

Previous research has indicated that children are extra sensitive to the negative effects of air pollutants and our study suggests that early exposure in life can be particularly harmful,

says Professor Göran Pershagen of the Institute of Environmental Medicine at Karolinska Institute in Stockholm, Sweden.  The study was presented recently in Sweden at Allergistämman 2012 (“Allergy Meeting 2012”) in Gothenburg at a seminar titled “Air Pollutants from Road Traffic and Allergies in Children” (Luftföreningar från vägtrafiken och allergi hos barn).

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Report reveals few Local Authorities know if schools comply with indoor air quality standards

A new updated report from Clean Air in London reveals that few local authorities know if their buildings use regularly maintained air filters that comply with indoor air quality standard EN 13779, particularly schools.

Indoor Air Quality in Schools

CAL REPORT: Air filtration in public buildings in London, Updated 24 November 2012

Indoor air quality (IAQ) can be worse than outdoor (or ambient) air quality (AAQ) due to the many sources of pollution within buildings and homes. Clean Air in London (CAL) is therefore campaigning to build public understanding of indoor air quality, initially in London, with support from Camfil Farr.

This report examines the issue of air filtration in public buildings in London. It includes the results of an Environment Information Regulations request to local, regional and central Government bodies asking ‘which buildings owned, occupied or managed by the Local Authority use regularly maintained air filters that comply fully with European guideline EN 13779 e.g. offices and schools’. The responses received have been analysed and ranked.

The Greater London Authority Group (GLA Group) has detailed knowledge of its buildings. For example, Transport for London (TfL) confirmed that seven buildings in its ‘Head Office Portfolio’ were due to comply fully with EN 13779 by April 2012 with eight others in 2012/2013. CAL has been surprised to discover a big difference among the 33 local authorities in London in terms of how much they know about indoor air quality standards in their buildings. Some have been able to provide quite detailed information on compliant buildings whilst others seem to have little idea of which buildings comply with EN 13779. Many local authorities have told CAL they do not know about compliance with EN 13779 in some or all of their schools because they are independently managed.

CAL is therefore encouraging the London Assembly to investigate IAQ with a particular focus on health and energy savings. The investigation should consider buildings with existing mechanical ventilation and others where standalone or ducted air filtration may be needed. There is a tremendous opportunity to improve public health and save energy Note 1 and money through the use of regularly maintained air filters that comply fully with EN 13779.

Read the full report here.

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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.

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