Air quality management tips for colleges and schools
Educational institutions should take a comprehensive look at air quality in schools
The pandemic has influenced all facets, whether economic or social, of our lives. While several parts of the economy are “unlocked,” it is challenging for children who may be highly vulnerable to open our educational sector. We should provide safe and friendly places in our educational institutions to students, teachers and employees to study.
Schools are, however, vulnerable to aerosol infection. Some studies already show how SARS-CoV2, especially people with comorbidity, is spreading in educational institutions and becoming fatal for school employees. Children can also take the virus home to their parents or grandparents who can also suffer comorbidities.
Educational institutions should look holistically at the quality of air in schools not only through the narrow pandemic prism. Bad indoor air quality (IAQ) can not only decrease efficiency and lead to poor health effects for children and workers, but also grow into conditions for transmitting viruses and diseases.
Students spend much of their time near each other in school, which raises the risk of airborne infections. Poor ventilation can lead not only in pathogens but also from products of cleaning, furnishing and building materials, in many schools, in particular those equipped with air conditioning.
Children need sufficient air volumes in order to grow, develop and exercise. If there is overcrowding in classrooms, and no sufficient ventilation is provided, then CO2 and bio-contaminants increase in the air that affects the performance and health of students.
So, what should schools do in their buildings to boost air quality? The best option is to accept anti-pollutant initiatives that the school might face.
The following tips help to boost the air quality in indoor schools:
- Using as much as possible natural ventilation (open doors and windows).
- However, if a school is situated close to busy roads, NOx and PM emissions are more likely. NOx and PM can cause a kidney heart pulmonary effect. In such cases, fresh air in the classrooms is required through mechanical filtration equipment.
- Schools with closed windows and doors have to take careful account of sufficient ventilation, in particular when using units without fresh air, e.g. split AC units. In these situations, both decentralised and centralised fresh air systems can be given.
- Odours and volatile organic compounds (VOCs), such as paints, cleaning agents such as phenyl, are released from synthetic auxiliary materials. Continuous exposure to these contaminants is hazardous to your health.
- Owing to poor construction or maintenance or leaching pipes or incorrect air conditioning systems, dampness, moulds, and airborne fungi can occur at certain times. Air conditioners would help philtre those pollutants.
- Seasonal diseases of airborne air such as influenza or pandemics such as COVID19 are a real threat for the students and employees. In such instances, UV light germicidal equipment and surface disinfection procedures can be used regularly. However, air sterilisation technology is useful for real-time safety, as they provide clean, filtered and sterilised air.
- Aerosol generation in toilets must be given careful consideration since it can be the source of the diffusion of airborne microbes. The correct exhaust from toilets of the polluted air ensures that this dissemination is contained.
- It would be best to stop using air-conditioned cars and open the windows of the car if the school supplied transport for its students.
- It should be designed that there will be new school buildings with open corridors for easy natural fresh air and stale air.
- Knowledge of the maintenance of high hygiene standards is most critical for students, teachers and staff during COVID- 19. The use of masks is obligatory, not crowding in unventilated areas, the required distance from other people and careful attention is paid to hand-hygiene.
A polluted indoor climate risks researchers and staff with possible short-term and long-term health impacts. Coughing, headaches, allergies, bacterial infections, onset of respiratory disorders, attacking asthma and allergies, compromised immune systems, visual discomfort, low focus, cognitive growth, academic performance or absenteeism, amongst other items. Therefore an emphasis on improvements in air quality would help us create a good future for our children in our education institutions.