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Tuesday, 19 June 2018

Indoor Air Quality in London's Schools, A Report; Traffic and Air Pollution.

Pollution and a threat to public health (especially schoolchildren's) is not just about piles of rubbish in the streets.

A report (pdf) - 79 pages - UCL and University of Cambridge

Indoor Air Quality in London’s Schools

Report Commissioned by: 
Greater London Authority City Hall, The Queen’s Walk, London SE1 2AA

Report prepared by: 

Professor Dejan Mumovic CEng FCIBSE MASHRAE UCL Institute for Environmental Design and Engineering, London 
Dr Lia Chatzidiakou Department of Chemistry, University of Cambridge, Cambridge
Dr Joe Jack Williams Feilden Clegg Bradley Studios, London
Dr Esfand Burman UCL Institute for Environmental Design and Engineering, London

Health, comfort and cognitive performance 

"The UK has the highest prevalence of childhood asthma among all European countries. The school represents a significant exposure environment that can trigger health symptoms among susceptible children. A review of existing studies concluded that children living or attending schools near high traffic density roads were exposed to higher levels of motor vehicle exhaust gases, and had higher incidence and prevalence of childhood asthma and wheeze. A higher incidence of childhood asthma was positively associated with exposure to nitrogen dioxide (NO2). Exposure to particulate matter (PM) was also associated with a higher incidence of wheeze in children. 

Although there is limited evidence, some studies indicate significant improvement in cognitive performance of students when temperature in classrooms drops from 25◦C to 20◦C. The evidence also suggests that ventilation rates keeping carbon dioxide (CO2) levels between 600 and 1,000 ppm may improve cognitive performance of students". 

Understanding Indoor to Outdoor (I/O) ratios of pollutants 

"In urban areas, a significant proportion of indoor air pollution is due to outdoor air pollution that penetrates through the buildings. Peak penetration of pollutants into buildings occurs when high concentrations of pollutants coincide with high pressure weather fronts. Understanding these factors can become extremely complex in urban areas due to the close proximity and configuration of surrounding buildings. It is, thus, also true that internal concentrations in an urban building close to busy roads can vary greatly depending on the time of day, or location within the building. 

The relationship between the indoor (I) and outdoor (O) air pollution levels for a building at a given time is usually expressed in terms of the I/O ratio. The I/O ratio gives an indication of the protective effect of a building for a given pollutant. However, I/O ratios are affected by many factors, such as ventilation rates and local meteorology. I/O ratios have been shown to vary greatly, even with the same building".


Back in the early 1980's, I was involved with the organisation of an international scientific conference in Thessaloniki, Greece, where we had invited several distinguished British scientists and experts, to present papers on air and lead pollution. I made notes at the time (not to hand) on carcinogens, terratogens, mutagens and neurotoxins. 

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