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Efficient and Healthy Schools Campaign Focuses On Indoor Air Quality

Improving a school’s energy performance can affect more than utility bills — it can also boost indoor air quality and learning outcomes, making the classrooms healthier for students and staff. A new campaign, Efficient and Healthy Schools, will provide practical guidance on ventilation upgrades that can increase energy efficiency, lower costs, and improve the air at K-12 schools nationwide.

The Plan to Stop Every Respiratory Virus at Once

It’s not just about COVID-19. The scientists who recognized the threat of airborne coronavirus early did so because they spent years studying evidence that—contrary to conventional wisdom—common respiratory illnesses such as the flu and colds can also spread through the air. We’ve long accepted colds and flus as inevitable facts of life, but are they? Why not redesign the airflow in our buildings to prevent them, too? What’s more, says Raymond Tellier, a microbiologist at McGill University, SARS-CoV-2 is unlikely to be the last airborne pandemic.

IAQ (Indoor Air Quality) in Schools

This section provides an overview of indoor air quality (IAQ) in schools and its influence on the health, performance, and absence of occupants of schools. The review is based on papers published in peer reviewed journals. Most of the research has been performed in public schools, particularly elementary and secondary schools. The review focuses on allergens, volatile organic compounds (VOCs), particles, dampness and mold, and ventilation with outdoor air in schools.

The Ventilation Problem in Schools

Based on a review of literature published in refereed archival journals, ventilation rates in classrooms often fall far short of the minimum ventilation rates specified in standards. There is compelling evidence, from both cross sectional and intervention studies, of an association of increased student performance with increased ventilation rates. There is evidence that reduced respiratory health effects and reduced student absence are associated with increased ventilation rates. Increasing ventilation rates in schools imposes energy costs and can increase HVAC system capital costs. 

Attendance Focus Shows Why Good Ventilation in Schools Still Matters

While ventilation was the big topic in the pandemic to reduce infection risks, academics say that if the government want to focus on boosting attendance to further minimize disruption to education, it’s a topic that should be on the agenda again.

After three disrupted academic years, it is evident that minimizing school absences for all students is vital. In some areas, attendance remains stubbornly low and there are significant regional variations.

SAGE Specialist Urges UK-Wide Culture Change over Value of ‘Good’ Ventilation

Prof Cath Noakes backs a culture change around how ventilation systems are designed and their effectiveness is measured concerning health outcomes and environmental impacts. Efforts to ensure sufficient ventilation rates across the UK's varied building stock poses a complex challenge to address not only vital issues of occupant health and wellbeing, but also decarbonisation.

Download Fliers to Share Regarding Air Quality,
Cost Savings and Impact on Student Learning

These fliers from LifeWings make it easy to share information with colleagues and decision-makers when it comes to the benefits of clean air in schools. They explain how it improves learning, saves money and reduces absenteeism and time doing maintenance. One of the fliers explains how the team at LifeWings and its partners do their work.  

Room-Level Ventilation in Schools and Universities

Ventilation is of primary concern for maintaining healthy indoor air quality and reducing the spread of airborne infectious disease, including COVID-19. In addition to building-level guidelines, increased attention is being placed on room-level ventilation. However, for many universities and schools, ventilation data on a room-by-room basis are not available for classrooms and other key spaces. We present an overview of approaches for measuring ventilation along with their advantages and disadvantages. 

Italian study shows ventilation can cut school COVID cases by 82%

ROME, March 22 (Reuters) - An Italian study published on Tuesday suggests that efficient ventilation systems can reduce the transmission of COVID-19 in schools by more than 80%. An experiment overseen by the Hume foundation think-tank compared coronavirus contagion in 10,441 classrooms in Italy's central Marche region. COVID infections were steeply lower in the 316 classrooms that had mechanical ventilation systems, with the reduction in cases more marked according to the strength of the systems.

The 60-Year-Old Scientific Screwup That Helped Covid Kill

Linsey Marr tiptoed to her dining room table, slipped on a headset, and fired up Zoom. On her computer screen, dozens of familiar faces began to appear. She also saw a few people she didn’t know, including Maria Van Kerkhove, the World Health Organization’s technical lead for Covid-19, and other expert advisers to the WHO. It was just past 1 pm Geneva time on April 3, 2020, but in Blacksburg, Virginia, where Marr lives with her husband and two children, dawn was just beginning to break.

Marr is an aerosol scientist at Virginia Tech and one of the few in the world who also studies infectious diseases. 

Monitoring SARS-CoV-2 in Air & on Surfaces & Estimating Infection Risk in Buildings & Buses on a University Campus

The estimated probability of infection was about 1 per 100 exposures to SARS-CoV-2-laden aerosols through inhalation and as high as 1 per 100,000 exposures from contacting contaminated surfaces in simulated scenarios. The objective of this research was to collect data on SARS-CoV-2 viral load and to examine potential infection risks of people exposed to the virus in publicly accessible non-healthcare environments on a university campus.

WFI 2021 Recognition – Idea of the Year Award

This open-source design is an effective, inexpensive, safe, and easy-to-build DIY air cleaner.   The multiple filters provide for high efficiency and substantial airflow.  It was created to help clean the air during the Covid Pandemic, but it has also been used extensively to deal with wildfire smoke.   Thousands of Corsi-Rosenthal boxes have been made in the USA over the past year.  Variations of the design have been built in countries around the world.   It is an excellent example of how a simple idea using air filters can help to provide safer and cleaner indoor environments.

The Homemade Air Purifier That’s Been Saving Lives During the Covid-19 Pandemic

One afternoon, a dozen Arizona State University students gathered to spend the morning cutting cardboard, taping fans and assembling filters in an effort to build 125 portable air purifiers for local schools. That same morning, staff members at a homeless shelter in Los Angeles were setting up 20 homemade purifiers of their own, while in Brookline, Massachusetts, another DIY air purifier was whirring quietly in the back of a day care classroom as children played.

Detection and infectivity potential of severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) environmental contamination in isolation units and quarantine facilities

Despite prolonged viability of SARS-CoV-2 under laboratory-controlled conditions, uncultivable viral contamination of inanimate surfaces might suggest low feasibility for indirect fomite transmission.

CO2 Sensors Help Mitigate COVID-19 Risk in Schools

CO2 Sensors provide a low cost, real time measurement of indoor air quality. They can be used to indicate potential trouble spots in classrooms as children return to school. For years, carbon dioxide sensors have been used to monitor CO2 levels in offices, schools and classrooms. Research shows that there is a direct correlation between elevated CO2 levels and poor air exchange in building air exchange systems.

CO2 Concentration Monitoring Inside Educational Buildings as a Strategic Tool to Reduce the Risk of Sars-CoV-2 Airborne Transmission

In order to avoid SARS-CoV-2 transmission inside educational buildings and promote the safe reopening of schools, the Italian Government, in line with the other European countries and in accordance with the WHO recommendations, adopted a contingency plan including actions able to guarantee adequate air ventilation in classrooms. 

What’s in the air?
Fine particulate matter is responsible for an estimated 5% of all premature deaths in Chicago. What is it and where does it come from?

One type of thing in the air is called particulate matter. Particulate matter — often abbreviated as PM — consists of very small particles suspended in the air we breathe.

These particles could be dust or smoke, tiny drops of water or even chemical compounds.

Webinars & Podcasts

Why is This Happening? Exploring if we should have an Indoor Clean Air Act with Linsey Marr: podcast and transcript (Dr. Linsey Marr, Professor of Engineering, Virginia Tech)

How to Sustain Indoor Air Quality and Keep Schools Open (LifeWingsPP)

Viruses, Smoke, and Indoor Air Quality

(Richard Corsi, Dean of the UC Davis College of Engineering, and Theresa Pistochini, UC Davis Co-Director of Engineering at the Western Cooling Efficiency Center and the Energy Efficiency Institute)

Smoke and Fire Hazards for Schools and Ventilation Challenges  (California School Board Assn, LWPP and UC Davis, Dr Scott Altman and Roger Silveira)

Air Quality & Ventilation at Schools

(Santa Clara County Office of Education)

Safer Air–Defeating Invisible Enemies


Ventilation & CO2 Monitoring for Schools

(Cath Noakes, Professor of Environmental Engineering for Buildings, University of Leeds, UK. Department for Education)

White House launches Clean Air and Buildings Challenge. See how it helps your schools...

The issue of air circulation and safety in school buildings is becoming a national priority as a means to combat the Covid-19 pandemic. Recently, the White House announced a nationwide call-to-action to improve the air quality in classrooms across the country.  Air quality has been shown to be a factor in employee and student absenteeism, health issues, and classroom performance.