Student Health and Performance Summary

Student Health and Performance

Indoor Air Quality and Student Performance, US EPA

Do Indoor Environments in Schools Influence Student performance: A review of the Literature.

Do School Facilities Affect Outcomes?

US EPA: How Does Indoor Air Quality Impact Student Health and Academic Performance?

NCEF: Impact of School Facilities on Learning


Normal subjects exposed to even low levels of VOC’s from common paints, varnishes, glues, dyes and cleaning agents, suffered significant impairment on tests for learning, memory, visual spatial tasks, attention, mental flexibility, and psychomotor speed.  This study at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine also found a connection between VOC exposures and clinically significant depression, anxiety, somatic concerns (e.g. headache) and disturbances in thinking.

Bell, Healthy School Handbook 1992, p.78

“The performance of an office worker increases by ~2% for every 2-fold increase in the ventilation rate, at constant pollution load.”

Also, “The performance of an office worker increases by ~2% for every 2-fold decrease of the pollution load at constant ventilation rate.”

Wargocki, P., Productivity is Affected by the Air Quality in Offices. Proceedings of Healthy Buildings 2000. vol.1:635

“The results of this study present one of the first empirical studies dealing with the economic benefits of providing quality indoor air over the minimum prescribed by current ventilation standards.”

Soheil Rastan, PhD. April 2007, Healthy Indoors Partnership Webinar

Healthy students and staff at our Benchmark Healthy School, Halifax West High School:

The indoor air was clean on opening day.  No illness reported.  Dr. Gordon Young, Principal of Halifax West High School, personal communication, 2003.

“Unwell” teachers are transferring into the Healthy Schools. Gary Walker, Principal of Halifax West and F. Creaser, Halifax Regional School board Staffing Officer, personal communications, 2007.

Teachers who became ill at the old Halifax West returned to work at the new school. Several teachers, whose names can be obtained with permission

Teachers report feeling as energetic at day’s end as they are when they enter the school. Halifax West teachers, whose names can be obtained with permission


Cost effectiveness:

By far the highest expense for school boards is staff salary.  Studies show any monies put effectively into improving Indoor Environment Quality pay back within 1.2 to 1.6 years. (renovation) Tedd Nathanson, Building Air Quality Technology, Public Works and Government Services Canada, 2005 personal communication.



Increased student performance:

Canadian Schoolhouse in the Red: The First National Study of School Facilities (Shirley J. Hansen Ph.D.  Sponsored by Honeywell)  cited a study by Maureen M Edwards,  Building Conditions, Parental Involvement, and Student Achievement in the D.C. Public School System, Georgetown University, 1991.

Schools were evaluated as being in “poor”, “fair”, or “excellent” condition.  After removing variables that influence achievement, such as socioeconomic status, a strong correlation between building condition and student achievement was revealed.  Students in “poor”condition schools fell 5.5 points behind students in “fair” condition schools and 10.9 points behind students in schools in “excellent” shape.



Chemical Exposures: Low Levels and High Stakes. Ashford & Miller, NY Van Nostrand & Reinhold, 1998.

The Healthy School Handbook, published by the U.S. National Education Association, is highly recommended reading. To order, call (202)822-7252. Give stock number 1863-X-20-E.

Indoor Air Quality Handbook. Spengler, Samet and McCarthy, McGraw-Hill, 2001.  ISBN0-07-445549-4  

Is This Your Child’s World? Rapp, 1996, ISBN 0-553-10513-2

Also, Google “Indoor Air Quality and Student Performance”