Indoor air pollution, physical and comfort parameters related to schoolchildren's health: Data from the European SINPHONIE study

SIMPHONIE Study Group, Ramen Munir Baloch, Cara Nichole Maesano, Jens Christoffersen, Soutrik Banerjee, Marta Gabriel, Éva Csobod, Eduardo de Oliveira Fernandes, Isabella Annesi-Maesano, Paula Tarttelin Hernandez

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Substantial knowledge is available on the association of the indoor school environment and its effect among schoolchildren. In the same context, the SINPHONIE (School indoor pollution and health: Observatory network in Europe) conducted a study to collect data and determine the distribution of several indoor air pollutants (IAPs), physical and thermal parameters and their association with eye, skin, upper-, lower respiratory and systemic disorder symptoms during the previous three months. Finally, data from 115 schools in 54 European cities from 23 countries was collected and included 5175 schoolchildren using a harmonized and standardized protocol. The association between exposures and the health outcomes were examined using logistic regression models on individual indoor air pollutants (IAPs); a VOC (volatile organic compound) score defined as the sum of the number of pollutants to which the children were highly exposed (concentration > median of the distribution) in classroom was also introduced to evaluate the multiexposure – outcome association, while adjusting for several confounding factors. Schoolchildren exposed to above or equal median concentration of PM2.5, benzene, limonene, ozone and radon were at significantly higher odds of suffering from upper, lower airways, eye and systemic disorders. Increased odds were also observed for any symptom (sick school syndrome) among schoolchildren exposed to concentrations of limonene and ozone above median values. Furthermore, the risks for upper and lower airways and systemic disorders significantly increased with the VOCs score. Results also showed that increased ventilation rate was significantly associated with decreased odds of suffering from eye, skin disorders whereas similar association was observed between temperature and upper airways symptoms. The present study provides evidence that exposure to IAPs in schools is associated with allergic and respiratory symptoms in children. Further investigations are needed to confirm our findings.
Original languageEnglish
Article number139870
JournalScience of the Total Environment
Early online date6 Jun 2020
Publication statusPublished - 15 Oct 2020


SINPHONIE project was funded by the European Parliament with cooperation from the Directorate-General for Health and Food Safety (DG SANTE) of European Union ( SANCO/2009/C2/04 , contract SI2.570742 ).


  • Indoor air pollution
  • Allergy
  • VOC
  • Sick building syndrome
  • Multi-pollutionThermal parameters


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