Schools Need to Improve Indoor Air Quality: A Study Recommends23 Nov 2021
Chalks and Dusters – Key Source of Air Pollutants at Schools
Schools and colleges in New Delhi have been found to have high concentrations of dangerous pollutants. A new study finds the level of PM 2.5, PM 10, and CO2 much higher than the acceptable limits.
A new study, carried out by the IIT-Delhi and the Society for Indoor Environment (SIE), finds that the schools in New Delhi have very high concentrations of dangerous air contaminants like carbon dioxide (CO2), PM 2.5, and PM 10. According to the study, the school premises have around 15 times higher pollutant concentrations than the permissible standards suggested by the World Health Organization (WHO).
The study observed the air quality of 37 buildings in New Delhi, covering colleges, shopping complexes, hospitals, schools, and other indoor public places where the possibility of the concentration of air pollutants is maximum.
The study was carried out during the winter period when there are extreme concentrations of harmful particles in the air. The comprehensive study concluded that the level of air pollution in schools and colleges is comparatively higher due to poor ventilation and construction activities happening nearby.
“In school buildings, we saw PM2.5 and PM 10 which is 13 to 15 times higher than the WHO standard. The reason being, the use of chalk and duster concept and that created concentration of suspended particulate matter in that area”, says Arun Sharma, the director, department of community medicine, University College of Medical Sciences.
“If you really think the economy is more important than the environment, try holding your breath whilst you count your money.” – Dr. Guy McPherson
High-Time to Deal with the Challenges:
With schools and colleges steadily opening up (and the pandemic is still lingering on), the conclusions of this research paper are disturbing. Some experts have also linked the mortality rate to air pollution.
When chalks are used on the blackboards, a great amount of fine dust is released into the air. In schools where chalks are primarily used amid poor ventilation, students are exposed to the contaminants that may lead to respiratory diseases. Experts believe that the fine dust released by chalks might not be dangerous per se, but they can accumulate over the years and may cause some serious health issues.
“In short, swallowing a piece of white chalkboard chalk won’t kill you, but breathing in chalk dust for several years can create or trigger respiratory problems,” according to a paper published by the Experimental Nuclear Physics Department, Nuclear Research Center, AEA, Cairo, Egypt. The study paper recommends considering chalk dust as “an irritant and an occupational hazard.”
The study concludes that schools and colleges should adopt national standards for indoor air quality. They need to have air quality meters (AQMs) to measure the indoor and outdoor air quality. The study also recommends using a complete air purification system to make sure the indoor air is fresh and healthy.
In India, popular brands like PetriMed CA™ have come up with an innovative way to improve indoor air quality. PetriMedCA Air Purification System is an advanced device that is engineered with 8-stage filtration technology that makes it efficient to neutralize up to 99.999% of air pollutants. It is fitted with an H14 ISO 50U HEPA filter, along with washable anti-bacterial pre-filter, carbon deodorizing filter, built-in ioniser, and UV-C technology.
A complete air purification system can offer much-needed relief from the threat of air pollution. Choosing the best air purifiers for schools can be effective in neutralizing the pollutants at the source.