Exposure to indoor air contaminants in school buildings with and without reported indoor air quality problems

Camilla Vornanen-Winqvist*, Kati Järvi, Maria A. Andersson, Caroline Duchaine, Valérie Létourneau, Orsolya Kedves, László Kredics, Raimo Mikkola, Jarek Kurnitski, Heidi Salonen

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

38 Citations (Scopus)
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Reported indoor air quality (IAQ) complaints are common even in relatively new or renovated school buildings in Finland. However, detecting the causes for complaints with commonly used indoor air measurements is difficult. This study presents data on perceived and measured IAQ in six comprehensive school buildings in Finland. The aim of this study was to discover the possible differences of perceived and measured IAQ between schools with reported IAQ complaints and schools without reported IAQ complaints. The initial categorisation of schools with (‘problematic schools’) and without (‘comparison schools’) complaints was ensured via a validated indoor climate survey and a recently developed online questionnaire, which were completed by 186 teachers and 1268 students from the six schools. IAQ measurements of physical parameters, gaseous pollutants, particulate matter and bioaerosols were conducted in four problematic school buildings (26 classrooms) and two comparison school buildings (12 classrooms). Using air sampling as well as exhaust air filters and classroom settled dust to detect the presence of elevated concentrations of airborne cultivable microbes and pathogenic, toxigenic and mycoparasitic Trichoderma strains were the most indicative methods in distinguishing problematic schools from comparison schools. Other IAQ-related measurements did not detect clear differences between problematic and comparison schools, as the concentration levels were very low. The results indicate that the complaints reported by occupants could have been related to excess moisture or mould problems that had not been found or repaired. Ventilation pressure condition investigations and simultaneous exhaust and supply air filter dust culture should be addressed precisely in future studies.

Original languageEnglish
Article number105781
Number of pages14
JournalEnvironment International
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2020
MoE publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed


  • Indoor air quality
  • Microbes
  • Online questionnaire
  • School
  • Trichoderma


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