September 10, 2017
Like teachers, classrooms play an incredibly important role in a student’s ability to learn and grow. If you’re a teacher getting ready for the new year, you’ve most likely invested time and money into preparing your classroom to make sure it fits the needs of you and your students to have a successful school year. Before class starts, there’s one thing we’d like to help you check: your classroom’s air.
Specifically, how healthy the air in your classroom is. Many of us take for granted that the air we’re breathing is healthy and safe since it’s not something we can typically see–but this isn’t the case, especially for air that’s indoors. In fact, indoor air can be 5x more polluted than outdoors, which can affect allergies, asthma, our ability to concentrate, the quality of our sleep, and more. Particularly “unhealthy” or “bad” air can even cause a variety of health problems, including dry skin and eyes, coughing and sneezing, headaches, hives, and nausea.
You and your students spend hours every day in your classroom, and if it’s filled with unhealthy air, your students’ ability to focus and learn could be at risk. Don’t worry, though! Keeping your classroom’s air healthy is much easier than it seems–all it takes is understanding what could be potentially harming its indoor air quality, then making small adjustments to fix the issue (or issues).
Each person exhales about 2.3 pounds of carbon dioxide every day, and while it’s not necessarily a toxic gas, it can have a big impact on your student’s ability to focus. This is because carbon dioxide is notorious for causing drowsiness, lack of concentration, and confusion.
Classrooms filled with students are at risk for high levels of carbon dioxide. Luckily, keeping your room’s CO2 levels at bay is as easy as opening a window, or your classroom’s front door. Allowing fresh air from outdoors to ventilate through your classroom will help keep your students alert and ready to learn.
Temperature obviously plays a major role in our overall comfort, but it can also affect our productivity. Too high or low temperature in your classroom will distract your students and not allow them to focus and function properly.
If you can, try to keep your classroom within the productivity sweet spot: between 70°F and 77°F.
Dust can quickly collect around a classroom on desks, bookshelves, and more, and it can cause more discomfort than we realize, since dust can irritate students’ eyes, skin, and ability to breathe--in some cases, too much dust can also trigger allergies, asthma, and eczema.
To help your students stay comfortable and focused, wipe down the room regularly with a damp cloth (try to avoid dry dusters, since they’ll spread dust into the air). If you or a cleaning crew vacuum’s the classroom, be sure to let the room air out for a while before your students enter, since vacuuming spreads dust that was previously trapped in your classroom’s carpet into the air.
Making sure your classroom is a safe and healthy space for you and your students shouldn’t have to be a challenge. One of the best ways you can make sure your students are set up for success is by understanding exactly what’s in the air in your classroom with an indoor air quality monitor, like Awair. Awair tracks toxins and chemicals in your air and gives you personalized recommendations to help you stay safe and healthy.
If you’re one of the 50 million people in the United States that suffer from allergies, you most likely have been prepping for Spring, when allergy symptoms can be at their worst. Keeping your home clean and free of irritants is a necessity, but it’s important to pay attention to how you’re choosing to clean — it turns out some of the most common ways to clean your home can actually trigger your allergies or make them worse.
Long-term exposure to high concentrations of fine dust – specifically a size of particulate matter known as PM2.5 – has been linked to increased COVID-19 mortality rates. This makes minimizing house dust in your home a particularly important step in reducing risk over time.
While it’s easy to visualize “air pollution” as images of cars idling or toxic gases coming out of smokestacks, the indoor environment can also be impacted in subtle ways. Since air quality is largely invisible, it’s crucial to monitor its effects at home and in businesses because pollutants can come from inside sources, such as household cleaning chemicals and upholstery polishes, or outdoor air can enter buildings and impact human health. The Environment Protection Agency (EPA) has said that “Americans, on average, spend approximately 90 percent of their time indoors where the concentrations of some pollutants are often 2 to 5 times higher than typical outdoor concentrations.” Everything from aerosol sprays to building materials can play a role in releasing harmful byproducts that pose threats to health, safety, and comfort.