Improving air quality in schools
Air quality is vitally important in educational settings for two reasons. Firstly, poor air quality increases the risk of transmission of airborne infectious diseases such as COVID-19. Secondly, there is good evidence that high CO₂ levels reduce cognitive function and concentration and cause sleepiness at levels which are not very elevated. You can read more about the infection risk and impairment of cognitive function at our page Why measure CO2? You will find a lot of useful general information on ventilation and filtration at our page How do I protect myself?
How bad is air quality in Australian schools? It's pretty bad! We got sent this Aranet4 HOME CO₂ trace from a classroom in a high school in Sydney in June 2021:
It shows the CO₂ level at over 2360ppm after just 70 minutes, and then only slowly declining after that. This level equates to a high level of cognitive impairment for the kids and teacher (no wonder they are sleepy and fractious by lunchtime) and a high level of infectious risk. At this level, each breath you take in contains 5% of someone else's recently expired out breath, as compared to 0.2% at the ideal internal air CO₂ level of 500ppm. Spending any period of time in this environment without full respiratory protection makes cross-infection a certainty, so it is critical that we improve indoor air quality in schools to healthy levels. CO₂ monitoring to identify areas of poor indoor air quality is a key tool in the toolbox. Please scroll down for further information specific to schools below, consult our dedicated page of OzSAGE advice for schools and also don't forget check out the CO₂ and COVID-19 pages accessed from the main menu above.
This is an excellent introductory video on clean air in classrooms: Leaflet on the Aranet4 PRO in educational facilities:
A very informative case study about using over 400 PRO units to monitor the CO₂ level in a network of 19 early education facilities in a small town. Click on the picture to download the pdf:
This one hour webinar takes you in detail through the theory behind classroom ventilation, research showing the effects of high CO₂ levels on cognition in schoolchildren (from 22 minutes 20 seconds) and practical ways to measure and improve air quality in the classroom:
Excellent webinar by Professor David Allen, a specialist occupational physician on how to protect yourself at work and at home. Also very relevant for schools:
A study from Italy, published in November 2021, looking at CO₂ monitoring in classrooms as a tool to reduce transmission. This is well worth looking at for anyone who is considering an installation in a school. The table shows some truly alarming CO₂ levels in classrooms, consistent with what we have seen in Australia: