Healthier buildings mean healthier pupils

06 February 2007

Renovating moisture damaged schools reduces the number of microbes present and improves pupils' health, according to Finnish researchers.

The news is reported in the latest edition of the Royal Society of Chemistry's Journal of Environmental Monitoring.

Dr Ulla Lignell and a team at the Finnish National Public health Institute studied two schools for five years.

One had been designated moisture damaged and was repaired during the study, and the other was a normal 'reference' school with no damage.

Dr Lignell said: "We wanted to evaluate the whole process, starting before repairs, during them and thereafter in order to get a better picture about microbial fluctuation and the corresponding health status of the pupils."

Samples of air were taken from around the schools each year, and the numbers of bacterial and fungal colonies that grew from the samples were compared.

Colony of aspergillus

Several species of aspergillus fungi were among the microbes collected from a moisture-damaged school

The moisture damaged school contained microbial concentrations much higher than the reference school initially; but once repairs were completed, the levels in both schools were the same.

Pupils at each school filled in health questionnaires throughout the five year period, and the health of the children in the moisture damaged school improved once the renovation was complete. The number of respiratory problems decreased to the same level as the reference school.

Professor Tiina Reponen, an environmental scientist at the University of Ohio, said: "The research presents a unique set of results on five year follow up of microbial concentrations in two buildings, and will be useful for investigators and practitioners dealing with mould contaminated buildings."

with thanks to Rachel Warfield for the original article


Effects of moisture damage and renovation on microbial conditions and pupils health in two schools-a longitudinal analysis of five years  U Lignell, T Meklin, T Putus, H Rintala, A Vepsäläinen, P Kalliokoski and A Nevalainen, J. Environ. Monit., 2007 DOI: 10.1039/b615459j

Microbial school monitors

Renovating moisture-damaged schools reduces the number of microbes present and can improve pupils' health, according to researchers in Finland.

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