The SEARCH initiative

A decade of international research to improve school environments and the respiratory health of children.

The SEARCH initiative (School Environment and Respiratory Health of Children) is a research project implemented within the international frameworks of the EU Action Plan on Environment and Health; and the World Health Organization’s Children’s Environment and Health Action Plan for Europe. The SEARCH initiative is supported financially and technically by the Italian Ministry for the Environment, Land and Sea (IMELS).

The first phase of the SEARCH initiative (2006–2009) led to the creation of a comprehensive database of the measurements of outdoor and indoor concentrations of several air pollutants in about 400 classrooms; and health assessments of more than 7,000 children in selected countries. Based on the SEARCH 1 conclusions and recommendations, the initiative was reaffirmed at the Fifth Ministerial Conference on Environment and Health, held in Parma, Italy, in 2010. Stakeholders and experts requested the follow-up project, SEARCH 2, to continue the valuable research activities. Four new countries were added, and the environment and health assessments were expanded to include indoor comfort and energy use in selected schools in the 10 countries.

The results of the SEARCH 2 project (2010–2013) were based on assessments of children’s comfort and exposure to indoor air pollution in schools. A working paper was produced focusing on the role of policies to mitigate indoor pollution. The SEARCH 2 project’s conclusions and recommendations support the development of environmental and health policies in Central and Eastern Europe and beyond. The SEARCH initiative was also presented at the 2015 mid-term review of the Parma Declaration of WHO Europe (in Haifa, Israel) as a contribution to the implementation of the Parma Declaration.

The main goal of the SEARCH 3 project (2014–2015) is to implement in practice all the results achieved in the context of the SEARCH initiative since 2006. The recommendations on indoor air quality risk management that were identified and developed under SEARCH 2 have been translated into the user-friendly educational toolkit AirPack for teachers of children aged between 8 and 11.

The Air Pack provides resources for teaching children about indoor air quality in schools.

The results of the SEARCH 2 project contribute to the 2014 mid-term review of the Parma Declaration of WHO Europe

A presentation of the results of the SEARCH 1 assessments, along with a technical annex on risk factors and recommendations for healthier school management

The SEARCH contribution to preventing and reducing respiratory diseases in European schools

Final publication of the SEARCH 2 project

A SEARCH 2 project working paper on the role of sustainable policies in the management of indoor air quality