School classroom air may be more polluted with ultrafine particles than outdoor air

Dec 22, 2009
The air in some school classrooms may contain higher levels of certain toxic pollutants than polluted outdoor air. Credit: Jupiter Images

The air in some school classrooms may contain higher levels of extremely small particles of pollutants — easily inhaled deep into the lungs — than polluted outdoor air, scientists in Australia and Germany are reporting in an article in ACS' semi-monthly journal Environmental Science & Technology.

Lidia Morawska and colleagues note increasing concern in recent years over the health effects of airborne ultrafine particles. Evidence suggests that they can be toxic when inhaled into the lungs. Much of the scientific research, however, has focused on outdoor sources of these invisible particles, particularly vehicle emissions. Little research has been done, however, on indoor sources, and even less on ultrafine particles in school classrooms.

In an effort to fill those gaps in knowledge, the scientists studied levels of ultrafine in 3 elementary school classrooms in Brisbane, Australia. They found that on numerous occasions ultrafine particle levels in the classrooms were significantly higher than outdoors. The highest levels occurred during art activities such as gluing, painting and drawing when indoor levels were several times higher than outdoor levels. There also were significant increases in ultrafine particle levels when detergents were used for cleaning.

Explore further: When the isthmus is an island: Madison's hottest, and coldest, spots

More information: "Ultrafine Particles in Indoor Air of a School: Possible Role of Secondary Organic Aerosols", pubs.acs.org/doi/full/10.1021/es902471a

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Dangerous laser printer particles identified

Feb 11, 2009

The identity and origin of tiny, potentially hazardous particles emitted from common laser printers have been revealed by a new study at Queensland University of Technology.

Indoor air pollution increases asthma symptoms

Feb 19, 2009

A study by researchers at the Johns Hopkins University found an association between increasing levels of indoor particulate matter pollution and the severity of asthma symptoms among children. The study, which followed a ...

Recommended for you

Stopping the leaks

12 hours ago

When a big old cast-iron water main blows, it certainly makes for a spectacular media event.

Alpine lifelines on the brink

13 hours ago

Only one in ten Alpine rivers are healthy enough to maintain water supply and to cope with climate impacts according to a report by WWF. The publication is the first-ever comprehensive study on the condition ...

User comments : 0