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Causes of Indoor Air Quality Problems in Schools

Summary of Scientific Research

The U.S. government’s General Accounting Office issued reports stating that one in five schools in the United States has problems with indoor air quality (IAQ) (GAO 1995, 1996). According to the same studies, 36% of the schools surveyed listed HVAC systems as a “less-than-adequate building feature.” The reports also suggested that there appears to be a correlation between unsatisfactory IAQ and the proportion of a school’s students coming from low-income households.

One in five U.S. schools have indoor air quality (IAQ) problems, a real concern in schools because:

  • children are still developing physically and are more greatly affected by pollutants;
  • the number of children with asthma is up 49% since 1982;
  • children up to the age of 10 have three times as many colds as adults
  • poor IAQ can lead to drowsiness, headaches, and a lack of concentration

Read the full report here.

By Charlene W. Bayer, Ph.D., Principal Research Scientist and Branch Head Georgia Tech Research Institute, Atlanta
Published in 1999