Poor air quality in Quebec schools threatens children’s health, report finds

By Janet Bagnall | Published November 29, 2012 by the Montreal Gazette

The air quality in a number of Quebec elementary schools is unsatisfactory and risks harming pupils’ health and their ability to concentrate, the province’s acting auditor, Michel Samson, said in his annual report Thursday.

Samson criticized the school boards for failing to carry out inspections, or even understand what it is they are supposed to do, as well as the Education Department for not requiring school boards to file regular reports on the quality of air in schools even in the case of major problems.

Children subjected to poor air quality suffer from headaches, fatigue and coughs and have difficulty concentrating. The symptoms of children with asthma or other respiratory ailments become aggravated. Teachers forced to breathe substandard air are less productive, the auditor said.

The auditor’s office investigated three school boards, one in Montreal, the Commission scolaire de Montréal, and two elsewhere in the province, inspecting two schools within each board. None of the three boards carried out visual inspections of the school buildings, thereby missing such problems as poor roof drainage, fissures in the brick veneer and foundation, high levels of humidity in crawl spaces and the presence of mould, the auditor found. The CSDM is responsible for the well-being of 51,000 pupils in its 87 elementary schools.

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