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Improving indoor air quality in EU schools

HEAL and several of its members were partners of SINPHONIE, an EU-funded research project on indoor air quality in EU schools and its impact on children’s health. The results of the investigations are now available.

Based on the evidence gathered, the Joint Research Centre and the partners from 25 countries have developed guidelines for maintaining good air quality. They are expected to contribute to healthier school environments in Europe.

The SINPHONIE project (Schools Indoor Pollution and Health – Observatory Network in Europe) monitored air quality and related exposure among 5 175 schoolchildren in 114 primary schools in 23 European countries. It allowed assessing the impact of poor air quality on children’s health, growth, learning performance and development.

On school days, over 64 million European students and almost 4.5 million teachers are affected by the quality of the air they breathe inside their schools. Those who suffer from asthma are particularly sensitive to poor air quality and pollutants.

Indoor air quality in school buildings is affected by outdoor air pollution, building characteristics and operation and management practices, including cleaning, maintenance, and ventilation. For informative purposes, paints, glues and other products are also important sources of indoor pollution. The report states that in order to guarantee good air quality in schools, attention needs to be paid to ventilation and occupation densities.

Specific guidelines were developed to promote a cost-effective preventive approach to indoor air quality control. These are intended to complement existing efforts at local and national level, and directed at policy makers and local authorities. The guidelines cover aspects including cleaning, ventilation, heating, use of equipment, and structural requirements for school buildings. They also contain specific tips for creating a healthy environment in classrooms, science labs, gyms, canteens, locker rooms and recreational areas. There is also a useful section on “Tip-*/s for a healthy school environment by specific school department”.

More information:

Originally posted on 11 March 2015

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