The healthiness in the confined spaces and in schools is a “red code” phenomenon. Children are particularly susceptible to the effect of indoor pollutants. The presence of numerous pollutants, as well as the hot-humid climate of the rooms which facilitate the growth of mites and fungi in domestic dust, have contributed to the increase in the incidence and prevalence of chronic respiratory diseases, asthma and allergies in childhood.
Indoor pollution in Europe is estimated to be responsible for 4.6% of deaths from all causes and 31% of DALY (Disability Adjusted Life Years) disabilities in children aged 0 to 4. Considering the increased vulnerability of children, the air of the spaces where they spend the most time, the home and the school (considered as among the safest environments), is often contaminated by significant levels of polluting substances.
Studies conducted in Europe, as early as the 1990s, showed that current asthma in children and adolescents was positively associated with many factors present in the school environments, including humidity, VOCs (formaldehyde included), mold, bacteria and allergens. Recent studies conducted in schools in Northern Europe and in Italy have shown that an air quality and sub-optimal microclimatic conditions can also adversely affect the performance of students’ school work.
Notes: The Disability-adjusted life year or DALY is a measure of the global severity of a disease, expressed as the number of years lost due to illness, disability or premature death.
A sensitive target for the problem of indoor pollution is represented by schools in relation to the susceptibility of children and young people who spend a large part of their time within the school walls. Each environment is exposed to different polluting agents, which compromise the healthiness of: classrooms, offices, laboratories, libraries, gyms, toilets, auditoriums, canteens. Each of these spaces can present specific sources and pollutants as well as a characteristic microclimate.
Potential sources of VOCs in such environments can be: the heating system, cleaning the premises with detergents, building materials, disinfection and disinfestation, the use of paints and solvents, as well as the presence of the occupants who make use of personal hygiene products, perfumes, deodorants and hairsprays. To these are added potential emissions of teaching materials such as markers, paints, glues, rubber products. Among these pollutants, micro dust and mites, which proliferate thanks to them that, play an important role. And they should be permanently expelled from the building.