After many months of virtual learning, UK pupils are nearing the completion of the first full term back in the classroom with their peers and teachers, engaging with their education in person. Most schools have adopted new safety protocols to protect students and staff since September, but there is a large threat looming unnoticed and untreated that threatens the health of these groups daily.
According to studies from Global Action Plan, Asthma UK, and the British Lung Foundation, more than a quarter of all UK schools, ranging from nurseries to sixth-form colleges, are located in areas with high levels of air pollution. This effects more than 8,500 schools and means that more than 3.4 million pupils spend their days learning in unhealthy environments.
What is the risk?
With children spending approximately 1,000 hours per year in the classroom and their teachers even longer, these students and educators spend a large portion of their time breathing potentially harmful pollutants. While invisible to the eye, tiny particles in the air can cause some very serious conditions and have negative impacts on nearly every part of the body.
The most obvious damage is done to the respiratory system, with strong correlations between poor air quality and respiratory conditions such as lung disease, allergies, and asthma. However, various studies have linked air pollution to other serious problems such as diabetes, obesity, heart conditions, brittle bones, liver disease, bladder cancer, and skin issues. Additional studies have linked air pollution to cognitive impairments such as ADHD and behavioural issues in the classroom.
These particles originate from a variety of sources that are a part of our everyday lives, ranging from car emissions to cleaning products to farming to heating systems. We can’t fully eliminate these essential activities, but we can take steps to make our air healthier to breathe.
How to minimise risk
Poor indoor air quality is the primary issue for most schools. In certain cases, letting in some fresh air from outdoors can help mitigate some of the pollution inside. But for those 8,500+ schools in areas of high pollution, the poor outdoor air quality is only making the situation indoors worse. The best way to improve indoor air quality is to use an air purifier.
Top five considerations when choosing an air purifier:
While flat filters are common, they often restrict the air intake to only one side of the purifier. A 360-degree filter draws in air from all directions, collecting pollutants from around the room. You get better airflow coming into the purifier no matter where the purifier is placed.
Maximising cleaner air coverage
Many purifiers do a poor job of distributing air throughout the entire room. Most purifiers can leave rooms with areas of little to no air circulation, or dead zones, by only shooting air either vertically or straight out.
Finding the right size
Sometimes it’s the littlest things that can make the biggest difference. Find the right purifier based on the size of your room.
While it is easy to allow the risks of poor indoor air quality to remain out of sight and out of mind, the threats to students, teachers, and administrators’ health and safety are very real. Consider adopting air purification on site in your nursery, primary, secondary, or post-secondary education institutions in order to keep your people safe and to let the focus be on learning.
You can take a look at the Leitz TruSens range of air purifiers here or to watch a video of the products in action click here.