Importance of Air Quality in Schools

As many as one in five people in the U.S. spend their days inside school buildings. Clean air in schools is an important part of creating a healthy learning environment. Teachers, administrators, and other school staff all play a role in ensuring that students are healthy, comfortable, and ready to learn.   

Challenges Schools Face

Schools face special challenges in providing healthy indoor air. School buildings are crowded places. They may have four times as many occupants per square foot as office buildings. The multiple uses of school space, including classrooms, cafeterias, gyms, art rooms and labs mean many potential sources of indoor air problems. School budgets are often tight, which may affect regular maintenance and cleaning practices.

However, failure to address indoor air quality issues and take steps to prevent issues can cause problems for schools, such as: 

  • Costly repairs and subsequent school/room closures to address issues if maintenance and proactive measures are not taken 
  • Reduced efficiency of school buildings and equipment 
  • Negative publicity and damage to relationships among parents, teachers, and school administration
  • Increased liability and risk

Impact of Poor Air Quality in Schools

Many studies have linked indoor air quality problems in schools to a variety of harmful outcomes, including: 

  • Increased student absences due to respiratory infections, allergic responses, or adverse reactions to chemicals used in schools
  • Reduced student productivity, attention span and academic performance
  • Reduced teacher and staff performance due to discomfort, sickness, or absences

Benefits of Addressing Indoor Air Quality in Schools

Taking steps to address air quality issues in schools before they become a problem can make a big difference in the health and success of students, faculty, and staff. 

Making even minor changes can have a large impact on health and learning. Increasing outdoor ventilation rates can result in higher standardized test scores, reduce the spread of respiratory illness, and decrease absences.  

Good indoor air quality helps to create a healthy learning environment and results in better health and learning outcomes. 

Solutions

Learn more by visiting our How to Know if There is a Problem page and Healthy Air Tools for Schools and Districts page.

Page last updated: June 7, 2024

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