Six in 10 UK classrooms ‘have worse air quality than busy streets’

Digital pollution monitors were used in 26 schools on 10 different school days by children and their teachers – and the results are impressive

empty classroom
Digital pollution monitors were used on 10 different school days in 26 schools

Six out of 10 UK classrooms have worse air quality than busy streets, according to a study.

Digital pollution monitors were used in 26 schools on 10 different school days by children and their teachers.

Volatile organic compounds originating from plastics, adhesives, disinfectants and solvents were among the main pollutants captured with airborne fine dust and liquid droplets that can be caused by heating, transport and cooking.

The study covered schools in UK towns and villages and found that indoor air pollution in village schools is no better than in urban schools.

And in some cases, levels exceeded the 1-hour exposure threshold set by the WHO, meaning high levels of air pollution that can lead to adverse health effects.

In some cases, the concentrations exceeded the 1-hour exposure threshold set by the WHO



The research was commissioned by natural daily nasal rinse Otrivine Natural as part of an initiative called Actions to Breathe Cleaner.

It comes after the WHO ranked air pollution as the top global environmental health threat, with 93 percent of children around the world breathing polluted air every day.

Sarah McDonald, vice president of sustainability at GSK, said: “We want to inspire people to take action on the health impacts of air pollution, as children are the least contributors but among the most vulnerable.

“One of the first steps is to be aware of your personal exposure and then learn what steps you can take to breathe cleaner.

“We have found that indoor air quality can be worse than outdoors, and as part of Actions to Breathe Cleaner we recommend ventilating classrooms daily at times when outdoor traffic is at its lowest.

“Also, let’s not forget that our noses are our first line of defense, so another measure is to wash your nose daily.”

The study also found that while children know air pollution is bad, they don’t know what to do about it.

After participating in the Actions to Breathe Cleaner initiative, which consisted of both classroom instruction and air pollution monitoring, students’ knowledge of air pollution and how to reduce their exposure increased by 54 percent.

Over a two-week period, schoolchildren were able to detectively analyze the air quality inside and outside their schools using digital pollution monitors.

The research was commissioned by the natural daily nasal rinse, Otrivine Natural



The project involved monitoring the air for 15 minutes in a stationary position outside the school, during a 15-30 minute walk outside – and for 15 minutes in the classroom after each walk.

Monitors were also left on in classrooms when not in use to help understand daily indoor pollution rhythms.

A further 4,000 children were involved in the initiative through a tailored educational program consisting of extensive classroom learning.

Since participating in Actions to Breathe Cleaner, many schools have reported putting additional practices into practice, such as: For example, more plants and building a “living” green wall to mitigate the health effects of air pollution.

Sarah McDonald added: “The ABC Initiative has helped educate over 5,000 children about air pollution and how it affects them personally on a daily basis.

“Children spend a lot of time at school and our research shows they may be exposed to air pollutants that can have adverse health effects.

“No measure is too small to reduce air pollution. By taking simple little “clean breathing actions” like rinsing with saline like Otrivine Natural Daily Nasal Wash, airing rooms, and adjusting the route to school, we can now breathe better.”

To learn more about the simple daily actions you and your kids can take to breathe cleaner, visit

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Fry Electronics Team

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