Self-reported health and comfort of school children in 54 classrooms of 21 Dutch school buildings

Philomena Bluyssen, Dadi Zhang, Stanley Kurvers, Marjolein Overtoom, Marco Ortiz Sanchez

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

Abstract

Background
While the indoor environmental quality of classrooms is a potential issue because it may affect the wellbeing of school children, the relations are still poorly studied. This study aimed to investigate the relations between classroom characteristics and health and comfort of school children.

Material and methods
A questionnaire was distributed among 1311 school children (8–12 years old, average 10) of 54 classrooms at 21 schools in The Netherlands. Additionally, the survey included an inspection of the school and its installations and an inspection of the classrooms surveyed using checklists, and monitoring of some environmental parameters (temperature, relative humidity and CO2 concentration) in the classrooms.

Results
Among the children studied, 87% was bothered by noise, 63% by smells, 42% by sunlight when shining, 35% didn't like the temperature in the classroom (too cold or too warm) and 34% experienced temperature changes. Main diseases reported comprised of allergies (26%), rhinitis (17%), hay fever (16%) and eczema (16%). Health and comfort in non-traditional schools was better than in the traditional schools studied (A non-traditional school is a school in which the way of educating children is different from the traditional way of education, according to a different educational theory). Physical building characteristics of the classrooms studied in the traditional schools were associated with the Classroom Symptom Index (location of school building, heating system, solar devices hampering opening windows or ventilation) and the Classroom Comfort Index (ventilation type, window frame colour, floor material and vacuum cleaning frequency).

Conclusions
Measures to improve acoustical, air, and thermal conditions of children in classrooms are needed. More research is required on the use of different lighting systems and use of different colours in classrooms.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)106-123
JournalBuilding and environment
Volume138
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 15 Jun 2018

Keywords

  • comfort
  • health
  • indoor environment
  • schoolbuildings
  • children

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