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Studies Show Indoor Air Quality (IAQ) Is a Major Problem in Schools

Indoor air quality (IAQ) has become a prominent topic of conversation in the HVAC/R and health industries over the past several years. While the impact of outdoor pollution in urban areas is well-documented, new data suggests poor IAQ is creating and exacerbating existing health problems throughout the population.


This article focuses on the state of IAQ in schools across America. Of course, everyone deserves to have clean air indoors, but IAQ concerns in schools can have lasting consequences. The combination of developing minds and bodies and the importance of fulfilling academic potential means improving IAQ in schools should be a top priority.


The EPA’s Science Advisory Board Ranks Indoor Air Quality as an Environmental Health Risk


Educating young people is never easy, and a suboptimal environment makes the task even more challenging. Poor air quality impairs a child’s ability to pay attention in class, especially when they experience symptoms like coughing, eye irritation, and headaches.


Asthma is one of the most common health conditions among school-age children. Nearly 1 in 13 children are asthmatic, making it one of the leading causes of absenteeism. But the problem goes beyond just missing school. Even students who are present in class are likely to experience higher levels of fatigue, distraction, and overall performance when air quality is below acceptable levels.


Students aren’t the only ones who suffer from poor IAQ. Staff members experience many of the same symptoms as children in buildings with high concentrations of mold, allergens, and other airborne irritants.


For more information on the impact of IAQ in schools, check out the EPA’s assessment and analysis.


Investigating the Causes of Poor IAQ in Schools


Though everyone can appreciate the historical value of an old school, recent studies show that these structures could be harming the health of their occupants. It’s no secret that ventilation and air purification technology were lacking in the mid-20th century, and many of today’s schools are in dire need of an upgrade to these systems. In 2014, the National Center for Educations Statistics surveyed a sample of school districts and estimated that the average age of the nation’s main school buildings was a staggering 55 years old.


Installing equipment like iWave™ Commercial Air Ionization System or other media air filters can mitigate the impact of airborne pollutants that originate outdoors and from within the building.


The Relationship Between IAQ and Academic Performance


The EPA estimates that nearly half of the almost 57.5 million students and school employees are subjected to breathing air polluted with toxic chemicals, mold, viruses, bacteria, asbestos, smog, asbestos, and other contaminants each time they enter their school.


The growing concern regarding IAQ in schools isn’t just speculative. Several institutions, including the National Education Association, performed studies that found a correlation between air quality and academic achievement.


So how do schools turn this trend around? It all starts with awareness of the problem. After identifying the issue, school leaders must formulate a plan to tackle the issue head-on. Typically, this means modifying existing HVAC/R systems to include enhanced IAQ technology.


Poor IAQ Can Create a Negative Public Sentiment


Administrators at any level of education know maintaining a good reputation is invaluable to recruitment and securing funding, and academic performance is the core metric by which schools are measured. Investing in ventilation and air purification system upgrades is a logical decision when considering the impact of poor IAQ on academic performance.


Quantifying the impact of IAQ on student performance or a school’s budget is an imperfect science. With that being said, several studies conclude that poor learning environments create subpar outcomes. School boards that pride themselves on achievement should recognize that there’s no better use of resources than improving the health and productivity of students and staff.


Upgrade Indoor Air Quality with Johnstone Supply


HVAC/R upgrades often emphasize comfort, but the right equipment does much more than help keep a constant temperature indoors. Reducing airborne contaminants in homes, offices, and schools can transform health outcomes at scale. The result is healthier and happier people, lower healthcare costs, and higher levels of academic achievement.


Contact a Johnstone Supply team member today to learn more about the IAQ products that make a noticeable difference in residential or commercial properties.



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