When schools open in September it is critical to ensure a safe environment for students and teachers. Allowing children back into classrooms provides an optimal learning experience, but needs to be done safely due to the continuing threat of COVID-19. Below is a list of reasons why indoor air quality has a large impact on children.
1. Children have smaller airways and their bodies are still developing.
Children are especially vulnerable to environmental threats due to their developing organs and immune systems and airways. Globally, close to 570 000 deaths in children under five in 2012 from respiratory infections and 57% (44–67%) of the disease burden (in DALYs) of lower respiratory infections in children under five are attributable to the environment (Climate and Clean Air Coalition, 2016).
2. Certain behaviours result in increased exposure to environmental contaminants.
Air pollutants can rest on objects if there is poor indoor air quality and bad air circulation. Children often put their hands and objects into their mouths which can transfer these volatile organic compounds into their bodies.
3. Children breath in more air than adults.
Children breathe faster than adults. A typical adult takes between 12 and 18 breaths a minute, whereas a 3-year old child takes 20 to 30 breaths a minute. Young children are breathing in the polluted air 2-3 times as much as adults are, this causes them to breath in more pollutants.
4. Children have smaller bodies.
Certain air pollutants congregate close to the ground. Dust and other allergens collect on carpeting. Children are smaller and closer to these pollutants which can cause them to breath in more than adults.