Teenagers working in school classroom

Teenagers working in school classroom. Photo: Phil Boorman / Getty images .

Why do we need to understand indoor air pollution?

The quality of our air is important. After all, around 10,000 litres of air passes through each person’s body every day. UK residents spend around 90% of their time indoors, yet regulations to address air pollution focus almost solely on outdoor exposure. Our indoor air often contains pollutants that can damage our health. Since young people spend lots of time at school, it is important to make sure that the air in classrooms is good, and improve it where it isn’t.

About the project

SAMHE is a collaboration between five UK universities and the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA). The SAMHE research team aims to establish a school-based network of air quality monitors which is representative of the UK’s schools. Through that network we will record measurements of carbon dioxide (CO2), volatile organic compounds (VOCs) and particulate matter (PM) along with temperature and relative humidity.

SAMHE also aims to give school communities the power to understand and improve their air quality. To that end we are developing an interactive Web App that pupils and teachers can use to interact with the data from their monitor. They will be able to see how their air quality changes over the course of hours, days or weeks and months. This will create opportunities for pupils to be scientists and do hands-on experiments with their monitors. It will also give students and teachers the knowledge and agency they need to control their own air quality, for example through opening and closing windows.

Some of the activities promoted through the Web App will be curriculum-linked. All of the activities have been designed to be flexible, so schools can do them as little or often as they like, for example, for one particular module for one class, or in a regular slot for a science or eco club.

UK Schools will be invited to participate, free of charge, in SAMHE. It is open to primary, middle and secondary schools and sixth form colleges. (Unfortunately exclusively early years schools cannot be accommodated).

Ultimately SAMHE aims to enhance understanding of air quality in schools to evidence national policies that result in improved health & education through changes in air-quality. We also aim to increase the engagement of school children in air quality science, potentially leading to a step-change in future national awareness.

Co-design

Around 20 schools have agreed to co-design aspects of this project together with the research team. They are helping design the interactive Web App and the activities to make sure they meet schools’ needs and are fun and engaging for pupils. They have also helped design the SAMHE logo (below).

SAMHE logo

Other schools have agreed to beta test the monitors and Web App and give feedback that can be incorporated before SAMHE is offered more widely to UK schools early in 2023.

Could your school help?

If you work for or study at a UK school (excluding early years only settings) then your school could help with beta testing this coming autumn term! Find out more about becoming a ‘SAMHE pioneer’ school’.

SAMHE pioneer schools

Funding

Initial funding was provided by the Department for Education , which continues to be involved. Funding for the main project is provided by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) .

SAMHE project team and funder logos

Follow SAMHE on twitter

Stay in touch with the project as it develops

SAMHE on twitter

Research Team

SEI York is leading on stakeholder engagement, including co-design and project communications.

Other partners: