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Methodology

The project comprises two main components: environmental monitoring, health assessment and energy consumption assessment; and environment and health capacity building in schools.

SEARCH II methodology

The first step in the environmental monitoring, health assessment and energy consumption assessment is the school selection:

  • 10 schools per country
  • Approximately 100 children per school
  • Children aged between 8 and 11 (3rd–5th grade)
  • Selection based on building characteristics (new/old or light/traditional construction); and polluted/clean environment

The monitoring and assessments are then carried out using measurements of exposure levels, questionnaires and lung function measurements.

Exposure levels:
The concentration of selected pollutants (CO; CO2; PM10; benzene, toluene, ethylbenzene and xylenes [BTEX] and formaldehyde), as well as relative humidity and temperature, will be monitored during the heating season both inside and outside the schools in the participating countries in order to establish children’s exposure levels.

Questionnaires:

  • School questionnaire: gathers information on the school environment (building type, neighbourhood, heating, maintenance etc.). The team doing the measurements fills in the questionnaire (one per school).
  • Classroom questionnaire: gathers information on classroom characteristics (floor and wall coverings, windows, ventilation, number of children in the classroom, furniture etc.). This questionnaire should also be filled in by the team doing the measurements (one per classroom).
  • Parents’ questionnaire: this anonymous questionnaire gathers information on each child’s past and present health status, the home environment (heating, building type, smoking and other lifestyle factors, living density, floor and wall coverings and the family’s socioeconomic status). This questionnaire should be filled in by the parents (one per participating child). If the parents refuse to complete the questionnaire, their decision should be respected.
  • Comfort questionnaire: gathers information on the children’s perception of comfort in the classroom. One questionnaire should be completed by each child.
  • Energy questionnaire: gathers information about the school building and energy consumption. The energy consumption questionnaire is combined with information obtained from dataloggers (10 days, three dataloggers inside the school, two dataloggers outside the school).

Lung function measurements:
The approval of the child and of his/her parents must be obtained before the lung function test (spirometry) is carried out. The test should be performed in a quiet room in the school, ideally during the morning.

The second project component, environment and health capacity building in schools, involves:

  • the development of the training module and materials by international environment and health experts; and
  • the adaptation of training materials to local needs in the project countries.
 
Ministero Dell'ambiente Italian Trust Fund