The Client - West Yorkshire Schools
In June 2021, in partnership with Evotech, Airthings rolled out air quality monitors to 5 local schools in Calderdale, West Yorkshire. The goal was to monitor and improve their air quality and in doing so improve the quality of education for the students.
The “Air Quality in Schools” Problem
Poor indoor air quality isn’t just a cause for worry in offices and homes, it is a significant concern for schools as it can affect the health, well-being, and productivity of students and teachers. Poor air quality, especially high CO2 levels can cause headaches, irritability, and drowsiness, and is also correlated with absenteeism and poorer performance Moreover, during the pandemic, it became clear that it was directly linked to the transmission of airborne viruses such as Covid-19. Unfortunately, most schools in the UK are old buildings that are poorly ventilated. The lack of airflow leads to a build-up of stale air that can contain pollutants like PM2.5 and VOCs (airborne chemicals) which have a mix of long and short-term effects on those inhaling them. A key issue for schools is often the lack of a clear solution and a way to measure results. Moreover, people often don’t believe that the air is that bad - seeing is believing! In the past, the cost of fixing air quality issues has also been a major hurdle.
The Solution - air quality monitoring
To help schools tackle the issue of poor indoor air quality, Evotech Air Quality launched its #CleanAirSchools campaign using Airthings Space CO2 and Space Radon air quality monitors. The company supported five local schools in Calderdale with a fully funded air quality monitoring program. The program included the installation of state-of-the-art air quality monitoring sensors throughout the five schools, with a focus on CO2 levels in the first year, followed by PM2.5 levels in the second year. The Evotech team also provided educational materials partly created by Airthings as part of their Air for Kids initiative. These materials included interactive games to help students understand more about air pollution and involve them in monitoring the air quality in their classrooms.
The Result - awareness of the problem and clarification of the next steps
With over 9.2 million sensor readings over 12 months, the analysis was clear - the schools needed to improve ventilation. The total number of hours spent over 1,500ppm (warning zone) was 4,846 which is far from ideal. With a “red light notification” built-in, Airthings air quality monitors issued notifications throughout the year, prompting teachers and students to bring fresh air into their classrooms. However, during the winter months, it proved challenging to keep classrooms warm enough when windows were open. Improving HVAC schedules, using the Airthings for Business Dashboard and air quality data including temperature, is a natural next step for the team. The collection of this data alone can offer some insights into the sub-optimal conditions in which our children are spending up to 8 hours a day. Highlighting through data not only what the issues are but also how they can be solved is a step in the right direction to finally put air quality at the front of mind for educators and legislators throughout Great Britain.
In Year Two of the program, the Evotech team in partnership with Airthings will focus on PM2.5 levels, a serious air pollutant that can be inhaled deep into the lungs and cause serious health problems. The company will install state-of-the-art Space Pro air quality sensors to measure PM2.5 levels in the classrooms and provide schools with data-driven recommendations to mitigate the risk of exposure to PM2.5.
Evotech Air Quality's vanguard #CleanAirSchools campaign in partnership with Airthings serves as a blueprint for other schools and institutions to create a healthy and safe environment for students and teachers by improving the air quality in their classrooms.