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How Air Quality Impacts Student Performance

Posted in Air Quality, on July 10, 2024

Did you know that learning is affected by indoor air quality? The air we breathe is one of the most forgotten and ignored elements that affect our daily lives. At SafeAir, we’ve specialized in home air quality testing for over a decade, helping families, schools, and businesses improve the learning and working environment in this subtle but powerful way. In today’s article, we’ll share some of the best research and knowledge about air quality’s role in learning, which we think will interest parents, teachers, and school officials alike. 

What Is Indoor Air Quality? 

indoor air qualityEveryone knows what a smog day is and why it’s bad. When the air quality index is poor, municipalities suggest staying indoors, reducing vigorous outdoor activity, and avoiding high-traffic areas. During these times, people who are very young, elderly, or have chronic conditions are at an increased risk. But what if staying indoors also increases your risk? 

Just because it’s indoors doesn’t always make the air quality safer — just like outdoor pollution, your indoor air environment can also become polluted. Some of the most common indoor pollutants include: 

  • Mold spores.
  • Dust and pet dander.
  • VOCs. 
  • Construction debris. 
  • Asbestos. 
  • Carbon Monoxide. 
  • Radon. 

Problems with indoor pollutants can be compounded by poor ventilation or environmental problems like high humidity. Indoor air quality can also change with the seasons and is affected by how you use your home and the items you bring into it. 

How Air Quality Impacts Health

Poor air quality will first affect the lungs and respiratory system. SafeAir’s clients will often report symptoms such as: 

  • Wheezing. 
  • Coughing.
  • Running or itchy nose. 
  • Sneezing.
  • Dry throat. 
  • Itchy eyes. 
  • Headaches. 

While these sound minor, when you live and sleep in poor air quality, these symptoms can become highly irritating and lead to other chronic conditions or issues. In the long term, many air quality pollutants, like radon gas, lead to cancer and other life-threatening diseases and conditions. 

How Air Quality Impacts Learning

Learning is critical to a successful start in life and a happy and engaged career. Therefore, it stands to reason that excellent indoor air quality determines a student’s ability to engage in the learning environment fully.

Plenty of researchers are paying attention to how the environment in which we learn affects the outcome—just think of all those news stories about how our phones and tablets affect concentration and attention! But folks are also paying attention to air quality and how this, too, can significantly affect students. 

Studies measuring air quality in schools have consistently found that, as air quality improves, standardized testing results improve, absenteeism drops, and students stay in school longer. Additionally, these studies find that fewer youth drop out or cease education early, that there are fewer asthma attacks, and that illnesses are reduced. Exposure to air pollution has also been linked to psychological and cognitive problems like depression. 

In one notable study, an increase in classroom ventilation found that for every unit increase in ventilation, the number of students passing a standardized test increased by 2.9%! (Read more on this study here: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/21029182/) This shows that improving air quality can not only have value when it comes to comfort and wellness but also have an immediate and measurable increase on learning outcomes. 

Improved Learning Starts at Home

Setting your young people up for academic success starts at home. At SafeAir, we’ve helped thousands of families improve their living and learning environments through home air quality testing. This science-led testing service analyses your indoor environment for common pollutants and air quality issues that can lead to discomfort, problems like mold growth, and ongoing health issues. To learn more about indoor air quality or book an air quality test, contact SafeAir today.

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