Investigation of indoor air quality and the identification of influential factors at primary schools in the north of China

Zhen Peng, Wu Deng, Rosangela Tenorio

Research output: Journal PublicationArticlepeer-review

69 Citations (Scopus)
43 Downloads (Pure)


Over 70% of a pupil's school life is spent inside a classroom, and indoor air quality has a significant impact on students' attendance and learning potential. Therefore, the indoor air quality in primary school buildings is highly important. This empirical study investigates the indoor air quality in four naturally ventilated schools in China, with a focus on four parameters: PM2.5, PM10, CO2, and temperature. The correlations between the indoor air quality and the ambient air pollution, building defects, and occupants' activities have been identified and discussed. The results indicate that building defects and occupants' activities have a significant impact on indoor air quality. Buildings with better air tightness have a relatively smaller ratio of indoor particulate matter (PM) concentrations to outdoor PM concentrations when unoccupied. During occupied periods, the indoor/outdoor (I/O) ratio could be larger than 1 due to internal students' activities. The indoor air temperature in winter is mainly determined by occupants' activities and the adiabatic ability of a building's fabrics. CO2 can easily exceed 1000 ppm on average due to the closing of windows and doors to keep the inside air warmer in winter. It is concluded that improving air tightness might be a way of reducing outdoor air pollutants' penetration in naturally ventilated school buildings. Mechanical ventilation with air purification could be also an option on severely polluted days.

Original languageEnglish
Article number1180
JournalSustainability (Switzerland)
Issue number7
Publication statusPublished - 5 Jul 2017


  • Air pollutants
  • Building air tightness
  • Indoor air quality
  • Internal activities
  • Primary school

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geography, Planning and Development
  • Renewable Energy, Sustainability and the Environment
  • Environmental Science (miscellaneous)
  • Energy Engineering and Power Technology
  • Management, Monitoring, Policy and Law


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