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Cleaner Air for Brighter Minds: Kids and the Air They Breathe
by Sam Teitelbaum

We send our kids off to school in the morning, we worry about their test scores, bullies on the playground, even what we've packed them for lunch. What most of us don't consider is the quality of the air they breathe. Sounds almost too simple, doesn't it? But classroom air can actually have a significant impact on academic success.

Over the past few years, air quality has quickly become one of the top environmental risks to public health, even more so than outdoor air pollution. In fact, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) notes that indoor pollution levels can actually be two to five times higher than outdoor air. Problems with indoor air have actually been linked to an increase in allergies, asthma, transmission of infectious and respiratory diseases, and student performance (WHO, EPA).

There has been much discussion about the mold issues many of our schools now face. But there are several other factors that contribute to a decrease in air quality. These include pesticides, dust, cleaning products, photocopiers, art supplies, classroom furnishings, and carpets. Amazingly, more than half of American schools surveyed by the WHO reported at least one environmental problem affecting the quality of their air. What does this mean for students and faculty?

According to the EPA, poor air quality in U.S. classrooms can cause problems ranging from subtle issues like poor concentration and memory, to serious health concerns such as headaches, eye irritation, and aggravation of respiratory problems. In one survey conducted by 3M (maker of Post-It Notes) and the American Lung Association, it was estimated that 10.1 million school days were lost due to asthma alone.


Unfortunately for most budget-strapped schools, air quality ranks low on the priority list—something that must change, as our children are actually more vulnerable to environmental contaminants than we are. Children are in a constant state of growth and development. As a result, they actually eat, drink, and breathe more per pound of body weight than adults. That means the commonly found chemicals, odors, and particles in the air can affect them more significantly in both the short and long term.

While the solution can sometimes be as easy as opening a window, in most cases, due to the poor state of many schools, other solutions must be considered. Air purifiers with large amounts of all-natural MAC-B™ carbon and true HEPA filtration are often a cost-effective way to provide an immediate improvement in classrooms and school buses. Often, for less than the price of a new computer, students can be breathing fresher, cleaner air—with 98 percent fewer particles and a vast reduction in airborne odors and chemicals.

An air purifier in the home can also go a long way in alleviating symptoms associated with air quality. Currently, the EPA is conducting a joint research project using Aller Air purifiers in which researchers are following 54 children to examine a possible correlation between asthma and air pollution, particularly smoking in the home.

As parents, it's important to think of the air our children breathe both at home and in the classroom. The EPA believes that providing schools that nurture the learning process with clean air is a fundamental societal responsibility that goes hand in hand with a high-quality education. After all, what more could we want for our kids than good health, happiness, and a solid education?

  • Aller Air:
  • Environmental Protection Agency's Tools for schools:
  • World Health Organization: