Digital pollution monitors were used in 26 schools on 10 separate school days by children and their teachers.
Volatile organic compounds, which come from plastics, glues, disinfectants, and solvents were among the main pollutants recorded with fine dust and liquid droplets suspended in the air, that can be caused by heating, transportation, cooking also detected.
The study included schools located in UK cities, towns and villages and revealed the indoor air pollution of village schools is no better than that of city schools.
And in some cases, levels exceeded the 1-hour exposure threshold set by the WHO, meaning high air pollution that could cause one to experience adverse health effects.
The research was commissioned by natural daily nasal wash Otrivine Natural as part of an initiative called ‘Actions to Breathe Cleaner’.
It comes after the WHO’s categorisation of air pollution as the largest global environmental health threat, with 93 per cent per cent of children around the world breathing polluted air every day.
Sarah McDonald, GSK VP of Sustainability, said: “We want to inspire people to take action against the health impact of air pollution because children contribute the least to it but are some of the most vulnerable to its effects.
“One of the first steps is to be aware of your personal exposure and then learn the actions you can take to breathe cleaner.
“We discovered that indoor air quality can be worse than outdoors and therefore, as part of Actions to Breathe Cleaner, we recommend daily ventilation of classrooms, at times when outside traffic is at its lowest.
“Also, let’s not forget that our noses are our first line of defence, so another action is to wash your nose daily.”
The study also found while children know that air pollution is bad, they don’t know what to do about it.
After participating in the ‘Actions to Breathe Cleaner’ initiative which consisted of both in-classroom education and air pollution monitoring, the pupil’s knowledge of air pollution and how they might reduce their exposure to it, increased by 54 per cent.
School children were able to analyse the air quality inside and outside their schools over a two-week period through detective-like-search using digital pollution monitors.
The project involved monitoring air for 15 minutes in a stationary position outside the school, during a 15–30-minute walk outside and for 15 minutes inside the classroom after each walk.
Monitors were also left on inside the classrooms when not in use, to help understand the daily pollution rhythms indoors.
A further 4,000 children were involved in the initiative through a bespoke educational programme that consisted of extensive classroom learning.
Since taking part in the Actions to Breathe Cleaner initiative, many schools have reported they are putting additional actions into practice, such as adding more plants and building a ‘living’ green wall, to help mitigate the health impact of air pollution.
Sarah added: “The ABC initiative has helped educate over 5,000 children on air pollution and how it is affecting them personally on a daily basis.
“Children spend a significant amount of time at school, and our research shows they may be exposed to air pollutants that could have a detrimental impact on health.
“No action is too small to reduce air pollution. By taking simple small ‘Actions to Breathe Cleaner’ such as nasal washing with saline solution like Otrivine Natural Daily Nasal Wash, ventilating rooms and adapting the route to school, we can breathe better, now.”
To learn more about the simple daily actions you and your children can take to breathe cleaner, visit https://youtu.be/x9_B4UFoGq8