Healthier schools: How to improve air quality by choosing the right sports floor

Upgrading the quality of the gym floor can be a key factor in improving a school’s air quality

Children spend most of their time at school, from kindergarten and elementary school through middle school and high school. So ensuring that schools are not only functional, but also engaging and safe places where kids can grow, study, and play in a healthy and stimulating environment, are very important.

More and more, school administrators and builders are focusing on creating healthy buildings that protect students, simulate their interests in scientific, artistic, and physical pursuits, and protect their well-being. Which is why schools are installing better lighting and using non-toxic materials: to provide students and their teachers with better air quality in closed environments.

This is especially important for children’s health and well-being. Contaminated air in school environments can cause headaches, difficulty concentrating, respiratory problems, and allergies.

School construction projects can help create safer environments by reducing atmospheric pollutants, such as volatile organic compounds, or VOCs, which can worsen allergy and asthma symptoms in children. One of the best ways to reduce VOC emissions in schools is to select safe flooring with non-toxic surface coatings and low VOC content.

Importance of air quality in schools

Increasingly, improving energy efficiency in public buildings involves the installation of windows and doors that limit air exchange inside the closed rooms. If there is polluting construction material inside those closed environments, the toxins they release accumulate in greater concentrations, causing health risks for the people inside.

Therefore, if a school is built using unsafe materials, the air inside could contain a large amount of volatile organic compounds and negatively affect the students’ health, increasing the risk for and incidence of asthma, allergies, headaches, and fatigue.

Because children are more vulnerable to airborne pollution than adults are (per kilogram of body weight, children inhale more air and therefore more polluting agents) and because they absorb contaminants more quickly, it is extremely important for schools to ensure optimal air quality.

For schools seeking to improve air quality, the best place to start is with the floor—the largest fixture in terms of surface area inside school buildings. By selecting certified floors, schools can tangibly improve the air quality in their environments.

Restarting from the gym floor

Children and adolescents pass a relatively limited amount of time in their school gyms, but because people inhale more during physical activity, gyms having healthy air quality is extremely important.

When choosing new gym flooring, several factors should be considered. The surface must be long-lasting, durable, high-performing and safe. Therefore, it does not matter if the floor is parquet (as is sometimes the case in high schools) or synthetic (which can be more suitable for elementary and middle schools where gyms are often used for many different activities). The sports floor should:

  • Offer good dimensional stability, absorb impact, have anti-slip properties, and guarantee uniform ball bounce;
  • Satisfy standards for resistance, traction, rotation, and surface abrasion;
  • Use only non-toxic glues and coating materials during installation, with reduced VOC content and a water base;
  • Emit little or no odor;
  • Guarantee easy cleaning and maintenance; and
  • Be resistant to damage from moisture, which could cause mold to form.

The product’s reliability must be confirmed in the Declaration of Performance, a document required by EC regulation, and the product should be certified as eco-friendly by independent laboratories, such as with the GREENGUARD GOLD certificate. These certifications guarantee that products designed for installation inside public (or other) buildings do not exceed the maximum allowable emission of volatile organic components.

GREENGUARD certification is administered by the GREENGUARD Environmental Institute, an independent organization that focuses on protecting human health and improving quality of life by improving air quality in closed spaces and reducing exposure to chemicals and other pollutants.

All MONDO rubber surfaces recently obtained the prestigious GREENGUARD GOLD certification, which guarantees that products meet the most rigorous certification criteria, considering safety factors that account for sensitive individuals (children and the elderly) and guaranteeing that the product is appropriate for use in environments like schools and health facilities.

MONDO vulcanized rubber floors are free of halogen, CFCs, chlorine, plasticizers, heavy metals, and asbestos, and they do not require the use of permanent waxes, chemical paint removers, or aggressive detergents.