Monitoring campaign

Period: October 2017 -  April 2018

The Monitoring campaign of InAirQ project has been carried on in 12 schools per State Partner, in the 2017/2018 heating season. The process consisted of 4 main steps:

  1. a checklist and questionnaire to be filled in by school managers/teachers in order to collect more precise information at the building and classroom scale
  2. a questionnaire on respiratory and allergic health of schoolchildren and home environment filled in by the parents of the pupils aimed at anonymously collecting information about the home environment of children
  3. sampling/monitoring of chemical/physical parameters in one classroom per school building and at one outdoor location;
  4. a time-activity diary filled in by the teachers during the monitoring campaign and aimed at collecting information about the activities carried on during the campaign, potentially affecting indoor air quality in the classroom.

Sampling/monitoring took place in one classroom per building and at one outdoor location simultaneously from Monday to Friday between 8:00 and 16:00 every day (when the students are present in the classroom).

At the technical level, the monitoring envisaged for each pollutant has been carried out according to two methods of different complexity and significance.

The first consists in a passive monitoring, whose strengths are low cost, and the extreme compactness of the instrumentation while the criticality refer to the impossibility to connect critical levels of pollutants to specific activities carried on in the classroom. For this monitoring method, absorbent cartridges are used, placed in the classroom during the permanence of the pupils. After the sampling period, the exposed cartridges are collected and analysed in a laboratory, in order to return a rough picture of the indoor pollutants and the amount of such pollutants breathed by the occupants of the room during the period of exposure of the samplers.

In order to obtain more precise results the passive method is accompanied by a continuous monitoring, more significant as it is able to return a graph that illustrates over time the trend of the different pollutants present; this allows to make correlations in terms of cause and effect between activities carried out at a given time and concentrations of pollutants in the air. In other words, this type of monitoring enables to associate the pollutant trends to the actions that may have generated or mitigated them: the use of chalkboard, cleaning activities, the opening of windows, and so on. For this monitoring mode, an electronic control unit is used; the disadvantage of this method consists in the not always high sensitivity of the sensors used which, as low cost, are not professional.

The investigated physical and chemical parameters are:

  • Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs): benzene, toluene, xylenes, ethylbenzene, n-hexane, trichloroethylene, tetrachloroethylene, α-pinene, limonene, 2-butoxyethanol, 2-ethylhexanol, styrene: through passive sampler (Radiello®);
  • Aldehydes: formaldehyde, acetaldehyde, acroleine, propionaldehyde, benzaldehyde, hexanal, glutaraldehyde: through passive sampler (Radiello®);
  • Temperature (T), relative humidity (RH), carbon dioxide (CO2), carbon monoxide (CO), nitrogen dioxide (NO2), ozone (O3): through continuous monitoring equipment with data logger;
  • PM2.5 mass concentration: through low-volume aerosol sampler and continuous monitoring equipment with data logger;
  • Particle number concentration /ultrafine particles: through continuous monitoring equipment with data logger;
  • Radon (only indoors): through passive sampling;
  • Air exchange rate (where applicable): through thermo-anemometer to measure air flow rate.

By crossing the two types of data collected, we are therefore able to hypothesize what the activities inside the classroom are that are able to increase the level of pollutants in indoor air (through continuous monitoring) and what is the level risk to health that these activities involve for children who occupy the classroom (through passive monitoring).

The step succeeding the survey of indoor air quality data in schools participating in the project is the development of an awareness raising campaign and the drafting of action plans, intended for schools and the authorities from which they are managed and aimed at providing guidance to improve indoor air quality.

More information on these actions