[Air quality in schools - classroom levels of carbon dioxide (CO2), volatile organic compounds (VOC), aldehydes, endotoxins and cat allergen].Gesundheitswesen. 2008 Feb; 70(2):88-97.G
Children are assumed to be more vulnerable to health hazards and spend a large part of their time in schools. To assess the exposure situation in this microenvironment, we evaluated the indoor air quality in winter 2004/5 in 92 classrooms, and in 75 classrooms in summer 2005 in south Bavaria, Germany. Indoor air climate parameters (temperature, relative humidity), carbon dioxide (CO2) and various volatile organic compounds, aldehydes and ketones were measured. Additionally, cat allergen (Fel d1) and endotoxin (LAL-test) were analysed in the settled dust of school rooms. Data on room and building characteristics were collected by use of a standardised form. Only data collected during teaching hours were considered in analysis. The median indoor CO2 concentration in the classrooms ranged in the winter and summer period from 598 to 4 172 ppm and 480 to 1 875 ppm, respectively. While during the winter period in 92% of the classrooms the CO2 daily medians went above 1 000 ppm, the percentage of classrooms with increased CO2 concentration fell to 28% in summer. In winter, in 60% of classes the daily median CO2 concentration exceeded 1 500 ppm, while in summer this threshold was reached by only 9%. A high concentration of CO2 was associated with a high number of pupils, a low room surface area and a low room volume. The levels of total volatile organic compounds (TVOC) in classrooms ranged between 110 and 1 000 microg/m3 (median in winter 345 microg/m3, in summer 260 microg/m3). Acetone, formaldehyde and acetaldehyde were measured in concentrations from 14.0 to 911 microg/m3, from 3.1 to 46.1 microg/m3, and from 2.9 to 78 microg/m3, respectively. The other aldehydes were detected in minor amounts only. The median Fel d1 level in winter was 485 ng/g dust (20 to 45 160 ng/g) and in summer it was 417 ng/g (40-7 470 ng/g). We observed no marked differences between the two sampling periods and between smooth floors and rooms with carpeted floors. No differences were found according to room surface area and room volume. The median endotoxin contents in winter and summer were 19.7 EU/mg dust (6.6 to 154 EU/mg) and 32.2 EU/mg (9.6 to 219 EU/mg), respectively. The levels varied significantly between the sampling periods, but were independent of room surface area, room volume and surface floorings. Overall the results of VOC, aldehydes, ketones and endotoxin indicate, in general, a low exposure level in classrooms. The observed concentrations of cat allergens should be considered as a meaningful exposure route and thus could be tackled within preventive programs.