Most educators are aware of outdoor pollution, and you may even have the topic on your school's curriculum. However, did you know that indoor air quality can be anywhere from 2 to 100 times worse than outdoor air? Poor indoor air quality can be disastrous in schools because young people are often more susceptible to health problems. Indoor pollution can cause a wide array of wellbeing complains and could be responsible for poor attendance, poor grades and even poor teaching at your school. If you're wondering what could possibly be causing this problem (and how to fix it), take a look at these three polluting educational tools and resources.
Arts and Crafts Supplies
Many students find the arts department to be the most fun part of the school building. Unbeknownst to them, it can be a harbor for airborne toxins. Paints, pens, photo developing liquids, glues and a variety of other materials often contain volatile organic compounds (VOCs). VOCs can cause a whole host of short-term and long-term health problems, including chest irritation and headaches. It's a good idea to ask your supplier about the safety of each item you purchase; they should have a data sheet on hand to let you know any potential hazards. If you do have to use materials that contain VOCs, try to keep them stored in sealed, labelled containers away from the students' working area to minimise exposure.
School Buses and Coaches
School buses can be vital tools in getting students to and from school and transporting them to various public locations that enhance learning. Unfortunately, they're unsurprisingly damaging to the school environment. Exhaust fumes contain numerous harmful chemicals that linger in the atmosphere all day. This can be particularly dangerous to children and staff with respiratory problems like asthma, but even healthy students are at risk given that children breathe in more air than adults. If you can't switch to electric vehicles or ones which use less fuel or greener fuel, ensure that you locate classrooms as far away from vehicles as possible. You should also discourage your drivers from idling near school grounds as this emits unnecessary pollutants into the air.
Does your school have animals in the classroom? Class pets are a great way to teach children a variety of useful lessons, from learning responsibility to finding out about biology. Of course, just as people can be allergic to cats and dogs, other pets can also cause unpleasant reactions. Some of the most common class animals, such as gerbils and birds, deposit dander and waste containing airborne allergens. If you have class pets, try to keep their habitats as clean as possible; regular 'mucking out' will reduce the amount of allergens in the environment. These habitats should be situated well away from where students work, just in case any child is allergic. Never allow pets to walk on carpets or fabrics, as these are much harder to keep clean. If you don't have a class pet yet but you're considering one, why not opt for insects, fish, frogs or reptiles? These animals don't have fur or feathers, so they emit less allergens into the classroom.
While the above advice is a good way of minimising air quality risks, the best way to remove the maximum amount of pollution is with a quality air conditioning system. If your AC units are due for an upgrade, why not opt for a split system air conditioner? Aside from keeping classrooms cool, these units can remove harmful pollutants from the indoor atmosphere, including VOCs, animal allergens, and exhaust fumes that float indoors.Share