The Different Components that Affect the Air Quality Inside & Outside Classrooms

By: Krysten R.
Year: 2022
School: Westminster High School
Grade: 11
Science Teacher: Huy Pham

Studying the Factors of AQI to Determine the Extent of their Effects on the Indoor Air Quality Index of Classrooms

Students spend at least 6 hours inside daily, making classroom air quality an important area of study. The purpose of our study is to determine if variables including outdoor temperature, outside AQI, or the number of people present have an effect on the indoor air quality of a classroom. We collected data using the PocketLab Air, a device that identifies what pollutants are present in the air. Our results show that some variables tested had a modest effect on indoor air quality of classrooms. There was a slight trend between indoor AQI and outside temperature and between indoor and outdoor air quality index. We found no trend between the number of people in a classroom and AQI. Our results of slight trends and the absence of trends somewhat validated our hypothesis. We did encounter some errors such as not accounting for heater or air conditioner use, if the face masks had an effect, and if using a larger sample size could have resulted in better results.

People tend to not put much thought into breathing, a vital component of life so they look past what they are breathing in. Air contains large amounts of human-created pollutants such as ozone, particulate matter, and carbon monoxide, raising health concerns (“What is Air Quality?” 2020). Inhaling harmful pollutants has been shown to cause cancer, respiratory diseases, and more (Fann et al., 2016). Fortunately, with technological advancements, we are able to directly measure what air consists of. By utilizing devices that can detect the pollutants in our air, people can become more aware of what pollutants they are breathing and the associated health risks. Air quality is a measure of how polluted the air is and is influenced by air composition, temperature, cloudiness, precipitation, and humidity (“How Weather Affects Air Quality,” 2020). Equally important as outdoor AQ is indoor AQ. Indoor AQ refers to the air that occupies confined environments, whereas outdoor AQ is the measure of the atmosphere’s impact on outdoor air pollution. Levels of indoor air pollutants are often 2-5 times higher than outdoor levels (“Why Indoor Air Quality,” 2021). For our project, we focused on the indoor air quality of Westminster High School because we were curious about what we personally may be exposed to as most students spend 6 hours or more at school each day. We have collected data using an air quality device in order to analyze the different components of air quality that may have affected indoor air quality of classrooms.