Parents Grade Schools' IAQ

Student Attendance and Concentration Said to Suffer


ROSWELL, GA. (September 6, 2006) - Increased absenteeism. Decreased concentration levels. Declines in academic performance.  According to a national survey, these represent some of the areas of concern voiced by parents of school-aged children that can result from poor indoor air quality (IAQ) in schools.

Conducted by Opinion Research Corporation on behalf of Kimberly-Clark Filtration Products, the survey revealed that half of the 476 parents polled were concerned about the quality of the air children breathed while at school. In fact, eight out of 10 said they believed a school's poor IAQ can have a direct negative effect on a student's academic performance and health.

            Parents also voiced concern about other negative effects of a school's poor IAQ:

  • 70 percent believe a school's poor IAQ can have a negative effect on students'concentration levels. 
  • 66 percent believe a school's poor IAQ can have a negative effect on students' academic performance. 
  • 61 percent believe a school's poor IAQ can have a negative effect on student absenteeism.

Slightly more than half reported that their child repeatedly complained about or repeatedly suffered from health problems during or immediately after a day at school. Allergies, runny nose, and coughing were the most often-reported health problems.

Are these and other parents' fears well-founded? Consider the following statistics:

  • 20 percent of the country's schools have problems linked to IAQ, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. 
  • U.S. children miss more than 10 million school days each year because of asthma due to poor IAQ, according to the American Lung Association. 

Why Johnny Can't Learn

"The IAQ industry is closely watching issues relating to both absenteeism and 'presenteeism,' which is when people come to work or school while sick," explains Dave Matela, Kimberly-Clark Filtration Products. "Presenteeism not only affects productivity in the workforce, it may also affect a child's ability to learn or concentrate while in school, as our survey suggests.

Indeed, of the parents who reported that their child had repeatedly complained about or repeatedly suffered from respiratory health issues during or immediately after a day at school, 53 percent noted that their child had missed a day or more of school to recuperate, while 34 percent reported that their child had a difficult time concentrating in class because of the symptoms. Nearly half of these parents said they believe that poor IAQ either caused or contributed to these health and related learning/productivity challenges.

What Would Parents Do About Poor IAQ?

When asked what course of action they would most likely take if they found out or suspected their child's school had a problem with IAQ, 47 percent of the parents indicated they would bring up the issue at a school board meeting or directly to school administrators. 

Other options for action did not rate as highly with the parents polled. Only 17 percent said they would work with their PTA or PTO to address and resolve the problem, while 11 percent would petition the school to get better conditions. Nine percent said they would pull their child out of the school.

About the Survey

The national telephone survey polled 476 parents or legal guardians of school-age children from May 4-8, 2006. The margin of error is +/- 5 percentage points.

About Kimberly-Clark Filtration Products

Kimberly-Clark Corp. manufactures a wide variety of air and liquid filtration media.

This information was reprinted with permission from Kapnek Communications.