Schools will get sensors for pollution

Schools located in densely populated areas or near main roads will be equipped with sensors capable of regulating increased carbon dioxide levels that are posing a risk to schoolchildren’s health, it was revealed yesterday. The government-backed scheme will be implemented after studies on Attica schools revealed that carbon dioxide levels, in both schoolyards and classrooms, were significantly over the prescribed European Union maximum level. «It is a fact that schoolchildren spend a large part of their day in classrooms,» Education Minister Marietta Giannakou said yesterday. «It is the state’s responsibility to provide them with the healthiest possible environment. This is the reasoning behind the decision to install these devices to reduce atmospheric pollution which has been shown to be very harmful to residents of large urban areas,» she said. The installation of the sensors in 500 classrooms at 50 schools across the country will be carried out by the Organization for School Buildings (OSK), which oversaw two successful pilot programs in cooperation with the environmental studies department of Athens University. The special sensors to be used in the scheme record carbon dioxide levels and regulate them using a ventilation system when they surpass a safe level. Most air pollution in urban areas comes from car exhaust fumes, asphalt roads and construction work. The air pollution particles are known as PM10 and PM2.5, with the latter less common but more dangerous. According to the EU, the maximum level for daily exposure to PM10 particles is 50 milligrams per cubic meter of air. No EU maximum has been set for PM2.5 particles but in the USA the daily limit is 15 mg/cubic meter. A recent study carried out on primary schools in Athens shows that the concentration of air pollution particles in the classrooms ranged between 75 and 281 mg/cubic meter for PM10 particles and between 22 and 199 mg/cubic meter for PM2.5 particles. The same study showed pollution levels in schoolyards at 94mg/cubic meter for PM10 particles and 60mg/cubic meter for PM2.5 particles.

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