School Environmental Intervention to Reduce Particulate Pollutant Exposures for Children with Asthma

J Allergy Clin Immunol Pract. 2017 Jan-Feb;5(1):154-159.e3. doi: 10.1016/j.jaip.2016.07.018. Epub 2016 Sep 15.


Background: Home-based interventions to improve indoor air quality have demonstrated benefits for asthma morbidity, yet little is known about the effect of environmental interventions in the school setting.

Objective: We piloted the feasibility and effectiveness of a classroom-based air cleaner intervention to reduce particulate pollutants in classrooms of children with asthma.

Methods: In this pilot randomized controlled trial, we assessed the effect of air cleaners on indoor air particulate pollutant concentrations in 18 classrooms (9 control, 9 intervention) in 3 urban elementary schools. We enrolled 25 children with asthma (13 control, 12 intervention) aged 6 to 10 years. Classroom air pollutant measurements and spirometry were completed once before and twice after randomization. Asthma symptoms were surveyed every 3 months.

Results: Baseline classroom levels of fine particulate matter (particulate matter with diameter of <2.5 μm [PM2.5]) and black carbon (BC) were 6.3 and 0.41 μg/m3, respectively. When comparing the intervention to the control group, classroom PM2.5 levels were reduced by 49% and 42% and BC levels were reduced by 58% and 55% in the first and second follow-up periods, respectively (P < .05 for all comparisons). When comparing the children randomized to intervention and control classrooms, there was a modest improvement in peak flow, but no significant changes in forced expiratory volume in 1 second (FEV1) and asthma symptoms.

Conclusions: In this pilot study, a classroom-based air cleaner intervention led to significant reductions in PM2.5 and BC. Future large-scale studies should comprehensively evaluate the effect of school-based environmental interventions on pediatric asthma morbidity.

Keywords: Air cleaner; Asthma; Environmental intervention; Indoor air quality.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Asthma / epidemiology*
  • Asthma / prevention & control
  • Child
  • Early Medical Intervention / methods*
  • Environmental Exposure / adverse effects
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Particulate Matter / adverse effects
  • Pilot Projects
  • Respiratory Function Tests
  • Schools*
  • United States / epidemiology


  • Particulate Matter