Every school’s top priority is the health and wellbeing of their students. Preventing bullying, healthy lunches, and exercise are all things that come to mind when this is being discussed. However, one major factor that is often overlooked when discussing student health is air quality.
How Does Poor Air Quality Impact Student Health?
Poor air quality has numerous effects on the health of students. Many people would assume that air quality only has an effect on student’s lungs. While this is true, the whole truth is that poor air quality impacts students in ways most people would never even think about.
Transmission of Viruses
When air quality is left unchecked, a school can easily become the perfect environment for the spread of viruses. Viruses are most often spread through respiratory droplets, which are small drops of liquid that hang in the air when an infected person breathes. Schools can have hundreds of students walking the halls, and a portion of them will obviously be sick at any given time. These sick students, of course, have to breathe and thus are exhaling respiratory droplets containing the virus into the air of the school.
A hallmark of poor air quality is a lack of air flow and ventilation. Without this airflow and ventilation, respiratory droplets are not removed from the air, instead hanging in the air waiting to be inhaled by students. Due to this, a school with poor air quality will have viruses transmitted between students at a much faster and higher rate. With the recent coronavirus pandemic, it has become clear how important slowing the spread of viruses can be.
Risk of Long-term Illness
It is not just short term viral illnesses that we must worry about. Poor air quality can also increase the risk of students developing long term illnesses that could follow them for the rest of their lives. These include asthma, allergies, heart disease, lung disease, and even cancer. Most of these are caused by pollutants in the air making their way into the lungs of students and causing irreparable damage. With the risk of these illnesses being present, it is easy to see that air quality is not just a comfort issue, but an extremely serious health issue.
Lower Student Academic Performance
Poor air quality has a noticeable effect on the academic performance of the students who are exposed to it. Poor air quality can cause students to feel tired and sluggish, making it difficult for them to pay attention and concentrate, even when they are trying to. In addition, the health issues caused by poor air quality can be a huge distraction to students, making them perform worse in class. Students who attend schools with good air quality perform better on tests and have a higher level of concentration.
Increases Respiratory Symptoms
Everybody has a small cough or a scratchy throat now and then. However, when exposed to poor air quality day after day, these seemingly innocuous symptoms become much more prevalent. Students can develop chronic coughs, difficulty breathing, and other respiratory symptoms. When dealing with these symptoms every day, they become extremely uncomfortable and annoying.
How to Monitor Air Quality in School
The first step to improving the quality of a school’s air is monitoring it. This allows you to see how much danger the student’s health is in and what can be changed to improve the air quality. Monitoring the air may seem like a very difficult task, but it can be made incredibly easy with the installation of an indoor air quality monitor. This is a device that is constantly monitoring the air quality in the school, telling you what is in the air and giving you an idea of what can be done to improve the air quality. When it comes to ensuring that students are learning in a safe and healthy environment, these devices are truly invaluable.