Indoor Air Quality
It's in the air
The world-wide COVID-19 pandemic raised awareness of ventilation in all indoor environments, including in schools. An airborne virus, which is spread through aerosol transmission, will build up in an environment without adequate ventilation and, in fact, can be spread throughout a building.
Inadequate or poorly-maintained ventilation systems can contribute to a number of hazards (e.g., temperature concerns, mould growth, build up of CO2 and air contaminants). Not only does this pose a health and safety concern for everyone in the building, but studies have also demonstrated that students’ ability to learn and concentrate is affected by CO2 concentration due to poor ventilation.
Some signs of concern with indoor air quality are easy to see: a puddle on the floor or damp ceiling tiles tell you there is moisture or a leak somewhere which could lead to mould growth, or a vent caked in dust might raise questions about how clean the ducts and filters are. But other concerns aren’t as obvious: a buildup of CO2 because insufficient outside air is coming in, or airborne viruses that aren’t being removed by a proper ventilation system. Inspections, maintenance, and air quality assessments are all a part of making sure the air we breathe is safe.
Poor ventilation has always represented a risk to staff and students. In a post-pandemic world, there must be a move to improve ventilation systems to make schools safer both now, and in the event of another significant infectious disease.