Lourdes Salvador's Column
...Co-founder of MCS America discusses the latest Multiple Chemical Sensitivity issues.
Lourdes Salvador is the founder of MCS America, a science writer, and a social advocate for the greater awareness of environmental contamination, human toxicology, and propagation of multiple chemical sensitivity (MCS) as a disorder of organic biological origin induced by toxic environmental insults.
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Indoor Air Quality A Reliable Predictor Of Teacher Sick Leave
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by Lourdes Salvador
A new longitudinal study has concluded that indoor air quality in the school environment is a reliable predictor of teacher sick leave.
The study published in BMC Public Health examined the relationship between indoor air quality and school teacher sick leave in Finland schools. Teachers working in schools with good indoor air quality were found to have a decreased risk for short-term sick leave.
Head researchers Ervasti says, “Good and improved indoor air quality are associated with decreased teacher absenteeism.”
Numerous other studies have shown that young children are more susceptible to various forms of pollution than adults. This is due to their smaller size and higher respirator rate.
It would stand to reason that students would be more affected than teachers. A number of physicans and researchers, particularly aboard-certified environmental medical specialist and pediatric allergist Dr. Doris Rapp, MD, have linked environmental exposures to student behavior and learning outcomes.
“Health problems related to poor indoor air quality (IAQ), sometimes referred to as sickbuilding syndrome or building-related symptoms, include headache, nausea, eye, nose and throat problems, chest tightness or shortness of breath, fatigue, chills and fever, dizziness, dry skin, or even clusters of serious health problems, ” says Ervasti. “In Finnish office worker population, the most common symptoms of poor indoor air were irritated, stuffy, or runny nose (20%), itching, burning, or irritation of the eyes (17%), and fatigue (16%). These symptoms are often relatively minor, non-specific, and common amongst the general population. Despite their minor nature, these symptoms may have a great effect on public health and incur costs to the economy through widespread absenteeism and lowered productivity among the affected workers.”
Though Ervasti cites these symptoms as “minor”, fatigue is often misinterpreted as being minor tiredness when it fact it can be disabling to the point of interfering with cognition and mobility.
Indoor air pollutants include building materials, furniture, office equipment, heating, ventilation, air conditioning, detergents used for cleaning, mold, and pollutants originating from people and their activities, such as fragrances and pesticides.
Indoor air quality problems are quite common in schools worldwide, thus demand our attention if our children are to learn and grow up healthy with strong teachers.
There are many simple ways to improve indoor air quality.
- Assure adequate ventilation and fresh air.
- Purchase furniture low in formaldehyde and other irritants.
- Use noon-toxic, unscented cleaning products.
- Use integrative pest management in place of spraying monthly.
- Check for mold on a regular basis.
- Create a fragrance free policy encouraging students and teachers to come to class without perfumes, scented personal care products, and fragranced laundry detergents.
These simple steps have been shown to make a huge difference in attention, focus, and mood in
Ervasti J, Kivimäki M, Kawachi I, Subramanian S, Pentti J, Oksanen T, Puusniekka R, Pohjonen T, Vahtera J, Virtanen M. School environment as predictor of teacher sick leave: data-linked prospective cohort study. BMC Public Health. 2012 Sep 11;12(1):770.
For more articles on this topic, see: MCSA News.
Copyrighted 2012 Lourdes Salvador & MCS America
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