High levels of CO2 in the classroom are forcing an Indiana school district to invest hundreds of thousands of dollars to fix the problem, according to Channel 6 News in Indiana. An online video is available here.
How common are high levels of CO2 in the classroom? While exact figures are not known, according to National Center for Education Statistics, there are almost 99,000 public K-12 schools in America, and the average school building is 42 years old. Many were built in the 1960s and 1970s to solve two problems: the high number of "baby boomer" children coming into the public school system, and the increasing cost of energy needed to heat old school buildings (remember OPEC?). Therefore, many of the schools built during those years used "modern" energy-saving features like windows that could not be opened.
While the new school architecture reduced the cost to heat the buildings, ironically, it resulted in "sealed" classrooms that had poor air quality and higher than acceptable CO2 levels.
The school building in Indiana is more than 30 years old.
The problem was first raised in the Indiana school by a parent of an asthmatic student, who thought indoor air quality in the classroom could be hurting their child. High CO2 levels were found.
Why are high CO2 levels a problem? Higher levels of CO2 have been found to positively correlate with increased student sickness and absenteeism. Poof air circulation not only results in high levels of CO2, but also high levels of dust, dander, germs, microbes and other particles. In addition, studies have shown that high levels of carbon dioxide in enclosed areas reduce the amount of oxygen to the brain, resulting in drowsiness and poor student performance.
“It’s an indication of poor ventilation,” said Cauldwell, Indoor Air Quality Team Leader for the Marion County, Indiana Public Health Department. “As the [CO2] levels get higher, you get tired, inattentive, not really paying attention, so in a school that’s particularly a concern.”
In the video, the school air quality manager can be seen using a UEI portable CO2 level meter available on our website. This battery-operated meter measures carbon dioxide, carbon monoxide, temperature and relative humidity. For schools on a budget, we also offer the pSense CO2 + RH/T meter, our most popular model.