Increased CO2 levels can impact a student's ability to learn
testo explains why indoor air quality should be the primary focus in schools around Australia, enabling children to learn in a healthier environment.
Indoor air quality is highly likely to be a source of problems for vulnerable children. According to the Department of the Environment, Australians spend 90 per cent or more of their time indoors; this percentage often rises during bad weather or exam time when students could be inside school buildings from the start to the end of the day.
Since many Australian schools use ventilation systems, students are placed at risk from carbon dioxide emissions, especially produced by ageing systems.
Carbon dioxide (CO2) is a naturally-produced atmospheric gas often heavily generated by vehicles and industrial areas. Humans also expel it naturally, requiring buildings to have appropriate ventilation systems to cycle the air.
Measured in parts per million (ppm), carbon dioxide has a reference range of around 700 to 1,500 ppm, but the limit can reach 5,000 ppm before serious harm is done. However, even at above 1,000 ppm levels, CO2 can impact alertness, and increase fatigue, which can cause problems in a classroom environment.
A 2012 study at the Department of Energy's Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory in the US revealed that test subjects measured across nine different scales of decision-making performance points showed reductions on six when the CO2 level was increased to 1,000 ppm. At 2,500 ppm, even greater failures were recorded on seven scales.
Berkeley Lab scientist Mark Mendell said the ability to 'take initiative' and 'think strategically' was most affected by the raised carbon dioxide levels.
One solution for school principals and administrators is to have regular maintenance, monitoring and checks performed by professionals within the building. Technicians can use the testo 535 Versatile CO2 measurement tool to view accurate and reliable CO2 figures, and detect indoor air quality problems.