Pratley & Partners

The Importance Of Good Air Quality In Schools

Wednesday, 12 June 2019

Young people spend a lot of time inside school buildings while they are growing up. Indoor air pollution is a growing problem that has become more visible in recent times. While most of us understand that bad air quality at school can contribute to health issues like asthma and allergies, few people recognise that indoor air quality can impact many youngsters productivity, mood, and energy levels as well.

The London Mayor commissioned a report on air quality in schools. It noted that children are more vulnerable to airborne pollutants than adults not only because of their narrower airways, but also because they generally breathe more air per kilo of body weight. The exposure of children’s developing lungs to air pollution can result in reduced lung function that persists through to adulthood, increasing susceptibility to respiratory and cardiovascular diseases.

The results and case studies in the report showed that poor ventilation and indoor temperature can contribute to reduced academic performance. There is a correlation between the start of the school year in September and hospital admissions of young asthma sufferers – suggesting that a return to the school environment exacerbates the condition. These studies indicate that a sub-population of school-aged children with asthma meet conditions that trigger their ailment, such as viral infections and exposure to allergens.

The Mayor’s office has made recommendations to reduce emissions and exposure. They include:

  • moving school entrances and play areas away from busy roads
  • 'no engine idling' schemes to reduce emissions from the school run
  • reducing emissions from boilers, kitchens and other sources
  • local road changes including better road layouts, restricting the most polluting vehicles around schools and pedestrianisation by school entrances
  • adding green infrastructure like ‘barrier bushes’ along busy roads and in playgrounds to help filter fumes
  • encouraging students to walk and cycle to school along less polluted routes

According to studies from the US Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, increases in the rate of classroom ventilation are frequently associated with improved student performance. Ensuring good ventilation and limiting the use of unpleasant chemicals and toxins in the environment from, for example, cleaning products, can be an important first step towards healthier students — both physically and mentally.

Additionally, cleaning the air with a purification system can help to improve the air quality substantially, especially in those inner-city areas which meet challenges from vehicle exhaust pollution because of their location. The age of the buildings is a factor, with those having a modern, airtight construction recording a lower amount of pollutants than Victorian-era buildings, which unfortunately house many educational establishments.

Overall, children are vulnerable to the air quality in school buildings and this is an issue which has been overlooked until recently. Young people deserve to study in good conditions because this is an investment in all our futures.

The experts at Pratley & Partners are on hand to deliver top quality ventilation and window control solutions; with their specialist knowledge and years of experience providing and installing ventilation systems in commercial buildings such as offices and schools, as well in personal homes, they are perfectly placed to provide this service to schools in the UK. Call today on 01277 633933 or email

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