Project focused on indoor air quality and children's health
By Eva Csobod
"Celebrating Progress on Indoor Air Quality and Children's Health" was the title of a September meeting that brought the SINPHONIE project to a formal close. The meeting was held on September 10-12, 2012, at the Regional Environmental Center in Szentendre, Hungary.
The two-year SINPHONIE project brought together the multidisciplinary expertise of 39 institutions from 25 countries. One of the main project objectives was to collect information on indoor air quality (IAQ) and children's health from schools throughout Europe, and to use comparable methodologies in doing so. Project partners have prepared guidelines and recommendations on indoor air quality in schools in order to improve the air that children breathe and to create a healthy school environment. Project outputs will be disseminated amongst actors involved in the planning and management of school infrastructure, as well as stakeholders and policy makers at European and national level, and local actors (building owners, teachers, pupils and parents). The project contributes to fulfilling Parma Declaration targets on policy development and environmental health actions.
Over the past two decades, Europe has been focusing more and more closely on environmental impacts on health. The World Health Organization's Parma Declaration, endorsed in 2010 by 53 countries, calls on signatory countries to take measurable actions to reach proposed targets. The stated aim of Regional Priority Goal 3 on preventing disease through improved outdoor and indoor air quality is "to provide each child with a healthy indoor environment in childcare facilities, kindergartens, schools and public recreational settings, implementing WHO's indoor air quality guidelines and, as guided by the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control, ensuring that these environments are tobacco smoke-free by 2015."
SINPHONIE, supported by the European Parliament and coordinated by DG SANCO, is the first pilot project to monitor school environments in 25 European countries in parallel.
Now that SINPHONIE is formally concluded, project partners are committed to following up project activities by carrying out ongoing research on indoor air quality and children's health in Europe. The results of the current project can raise new research questions on healthy school building materials, comfort levels and ventilation, which can then build on existing knowledge of environmental effects on children's health. Physical, chemical and biological elements of IAQ require further comprehensive study if we are to prevent future generations from experiencing a wide range of respiratory difficulties.
SINPHONIE project partners will require EU funding to complete subsequent IAQ research and provide a greater body of evidence for healthy school policy.