Indoor air quality poorests in schools, colleges: IIT Delhi study

The findings of the project Monitoring of Air Quality in Urban Indoors in Delhi (MAQUID) were released on Friday.

Indoor air quality poorests in schools, colleges: IIT Delhi study Indoor air quality poorests in schools, colleges: IIT Delhi study ( Source : IIT Delhi)
Pritha Roy Choudhury | Feb 19, 2021 - 6:49 p.m. IST
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NEW DELHI: Centre of Excellence for Research on Clean Air (CERCA) at the Indian Institute of Technology Delhi, conducted a survey on indoor air quality and found that among public spaces, colleges and schools had much higher levels of pollution as compared to hospitals, restaurants and cinema halls.

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The findings of the project Monitoring of Air Quality in Urban Indoors in Delhi (MAQUID) were released on Friday.

As part of the study, the air quality of 37 buildings across Delhi including the schools, colleges, hospitals, shopping malls, restaurants, offices and cinema halls was tested during the critical winter period for the city starting from October 15, 2019 – January 30, 2020. These buildings were considered to be the priority indoor environments where chances of exposure to indoor air pollutants are maximum.

The time for the study was chosen to cover the entire winter period when there are maximum concentrations of air pollution.

A comparative study of all the different types of buildings shows that of the 37 buildings, in only one cinema hall, a stand-alone could be covered in the survey.

Pollution in schools worst

Schools fared the worst in the indoor-outdoor survey when it comes to the concentration of the pollutants. “In school buildings, we saw PM2.5 and PM 10 which is 13 to 15 times higher than the WHO standard. The reason being, the use of chalk and duster concept and that created concentration of suspended particulate matter in that area”, said Arun Sharma, president of Society for Indoor Environment who is also the director, department of community medicine, University College of Medical Sciences. “In elite schools, the carbon dioxide concentrations were not exceeding permissible limits in most of the places,” he added. PM 2.5 and PM 10 are particulate matter of two different sizes -- PM 2.5 is smaller.

Colleges are a little better, “In all the six colleges where we conducted the study, the levels of PM 2.5 and PM 10 were ten to fifteen times higher than the WHO standard. This is based on the prescribed air quality for the outdoor air as till now there are no prescribed standards for the indoor air quality. Carbon dioxide concentration was higher than the permissible limits,” added Sharma.

Key recommendations

All the closed public spaces should have indoor air quality status displayed, the report recommends. “Concentration of pollutants are higher in closed places like schools, colleges, hospitals and restaurants, the biggest impact will be sensitization of the public if the air quality status is displayed,” said Sagnik Dey, Coordinator, CERCA, IIT Delhi

The experts suggested that there is a strong requirement of education and awareness about the sources and impact of poor indoor air quality.

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