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Study into classroom CO2 levels highlights need for better ventilation in schools

Evotech Air Quality, a provider of indoor air quality solutions, has released the results of a one-year study into CO2 levels in schools. The report highlights the need for better ventilation in schools after the company installed more than 150 state-of-the-art, air quality monitoring sensors, in five local schools.

The Calderdale #CleanAirSchools campaign, launched in 2021, is monitoring and helping improve indoor air quality in schools to promote a safe and healthy learning environment for students and teachers. 

The company has implemented a fully funded air quality monitoring programme supported by its local team of engineers, to help teachers and pupils see what's in the air they are breathing and help them find ways to improve it. The program also includes education and awareness-raising activities for students and staff on the importance of indoor air quality.

The classroom sensors are measuring and recording levels of particulate matter (PM2.5), carbon dioxide (CO2), volatile organic compounds (VOCs) and other environmental factors like humidity and temperature. The data collected by the sensors is being used to identify areas of concern and inform strategies for improving the schools’ indoor air quality.

John Lumb, Director at Evotech Air Quality says, “Studies show that improving ventilation can not only reduce the risk of virus transmission, illness, and respiratory symptoms, but also improve pupils’ wellbeing, concentration, cognitive performance, and productivity, with schools with better ventilated classrooms having higher test scores. The Airthings sensors our team deployed alert teachers when CO2 levels start to rise with a red, amber, green rating system, so they know when to increase ventilation and around 1,150 children and 220 teachers continue to benefit from the scheme.”

The team analysed more than 9.2 million sensor readings across the five schools over the 2021/22 academic year with some staggering headline results.

The highest recorded CO2 reading of 5,966ppm (parts per million), is a staggering 4,466ppm above Department for Education (DfE) guidelines of 1,500ppm. The average classroom CO2 reading across all classrooms in the five schools over the whole academic year was an acceptable 959ppm, however, the total number of hours spent over 1,500ppm was 4,846 which is far from ideal.

Sarah Lynch, Teaching Assistant at West Vale Primary School in Halifax says, “Evotech has really made a difference to our school. Evotech were quick off the mark to help local schools during the pandemic, and we appreciate everything they have done for us, investing in our wellbeing by installing air quality monitors in our classrooms. Our pupils have been learning about air pollution in class and using their classroom monitor they can track their own air quality on the interactive air quality whiteboards.”

Overall, the review highlights the importance of prioritising indoor air quality in schools and the value of using data-driven approaches to identify and address potential air quality issues, and Evotech’s commitment to air quality management underscores the growing recognition of the importance of indoor air quality in promoting health and wellness.

The company is now focussing its efforts on levels of particulate matter, fine particles in the air that can pass from the lungs into the bloodstream with serious health implications, with its Year Two review to be published later in the year.

The Year 1 Classroom CO2 report can be freely downloaded here 

25 May 2023

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