Formaldehyde Levels in Traditional and Portable Classrooms: A Pilot Investigation


The pilot study discussed in this article assessed formaldehyde levels in portable classrooms (PCs) and traditional classrooms (TCs) and explored factors influencing indoor air quality (e.g., carbon dioxide, temperature, and relative humidity). In a cross-sectional design, the authors evaluated formaldehyde levels in day and overnight indoor air samples from nine PCs renovated within three years previously and three TCs in a school district in metropolitan Atlanta, Georgia. Formaldehyde levels ranged from 0.0068 to 0.038 parts per million (ppm). In both types of classroom, overnight formaldehyde median levels (PCs = 0.018 ppm; TCs = 0.019 ppm) were higher than day formaldehyde median levels (PCs = 0.011 ppm; TCs = 0.016 ppm). Carbon dioxide levels measured 470–790 ppm at 7:00 a.m. and 470–1800 ppm at 4:00 p.m. Afternoon medians were higher in TCs (1,400 ppm) than in PCs (780 ppm). Consistent with previous studies, formaldehyde levels were similar among PCs and TCs. Reducing carbon dioxide levels by improving ventilation is recommended for classrooms.

Speaker / Author: 
Isabela Ribeiro Lucas, PhD
Peter Kowalski, MPH, CIH, CAPT, USPHS
David B. Callahan, MD, FAAFP, CAPT, USPHS
Gary P. Noonan, MPA
Daphne B. Moffett, PhD, CAPT, USPHS
David R. Olson, PhD
Josephine Malilay, MPH, PhD
Month Year: 
March 2016
Page #: 
Publication Month: 
March 2016
EH Topics: