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Poor Indoor Air Quality in Schools: Bad for Health, Bad for Learning

RIVERDALE, N.J., April 24, 2014 /PRNewswire-iReach/ -- Schools can be a breeding ground for achievement and success. Unfortunately, they can also be a breeding ground for the negative consequences of poor indoor air quality.
Those consequences, as recent studies have shown, can be both numerous and perilous. Poor air quality in schools can lead not only to serious health problems, but to trouble concentrating, memory problems, and trouble performing tasks like calculations. It's a situation, experts say, that calls for immediate -- and effective -- remedies, including high-performance air filtration and well-designed indoor air quality (IAQ) management programs.
Part of the problem is that the unique design and use of school buildings can exacerbate the impact of poor quality indoor air. Asthma, for example, is a well-known risk of indoor air pollution, but it is also a risk that grows as space becomes more densely packed with individuals. And educational facilities tend to be particularly densely populated.
Not surprisingly, but deeply troubling, asthma is the leading cause of school absenteeism, accounting for some 15 million missed days each year.
Other factors also contribute to poor IAQ within schools. "Locker rooms, darkrooms, labs, art rooms, and diesel school bus exhaust all make schools highly susceptible to poor indoor air -- and its impact," says Kevin Wood; VP Sales & Marketing, Camfil USA.
In recent years, the health effects of poor IAQ have been gaining increased attention. Air pollution -- both indoor and outdoor -- has been linked to heart disease, cancer, and serious respiratory conditions. In 2013, the International Agency for Research on Cancer -- an arm of the World Health Organization -- classified air pollution as a Group 1 human carcinogen. WHO estimates that indoor air pollution -- the result of harmful particles within indoor environments, as well as outdoor pollutants that seep inside -- was responsible for some 4.3 million deaths worldwide in 2012.
Now, the impact poor IAQ has on individual performance -- especially in a school setting -- is becoming better understood, as well. "Multiple studies link student performance to IAQ," says Wood. "Research is showing, for example, that students in schools with good IAQ score 12 to 14 percent higher on standardized tests than students in poor IAQ schools."
Poor indoor air quality, Wood notes, is a problem that can be tackled -- and tackled quickly, effectively, and affordably. Schools should be developing, and implementing, IAQ management programs, and looking to technology that can dramatically improve air quality. Cutting-edge solutions are already here -- and making a difference.
The reduced costs -- energy costs lowered by 20 percent, installation costs by 50 percent, and disposal costs by 70 percent for typical users -- come not at the price of performance, but with better performance. The innovative designs enable Camfil air filters to keep more dangerous particles out of indoor environments. Side-by-side tests -- regularly performed by potential users evaluating different filters -- have continually confirmed this.
Poor indoor air quality may raise troubling concerns for school-age children and their parents. But with a proactive, modern approach to IAQ, schools can reduce the risks -- and help students meet their full potential.
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