The LEARN project aims to control and evaluate indoor air quality in schools and its impact on the health and cognition of children. For that, this Horizon Europe project seeks to control and evaluate the air quality and levels of exposure of children in schools in three European countries: Denmark, Belgium, and Greece. Cohorts of children 9 to 12 years old are being recruited for this.

In November and December of 2023, the first pilot study for the LEARN project occurred in Belgium, led by the partners Universiteit Hasselt and Katholieke Universiteit Leuven, and conducted at a primary school located in the province of Limburg. The pilot study involved 18 participants distributed across two sixth-grade classes. Each classroom was equipped with an air purification system, provided by the partner MANN+HUMMEL, for intervention.

The primary objective of this intervention is to improve indoor air quality by removing particles and adsorbing gases. Enhancing indoor air quality holds great significance within primary school settings, as children are particularly vulnerable to poor air quality. This susceptibility arises from their accelerated respiratory rates, which heighten their exposure to indoor air quality, and their ongoing physiological development. Moreover, studies have shown correlations with decreased cognitive function in children, which is why the LEARN project seeks to quantify exposure to indoor air pollutants and link indoor and outdoor air quality to cognitive function in school children.

This first pilot study, conducted in Belgium, gives a solid foundation for the subsequent pilot studies in Denmark and Greece. In the meantime, data collection will be continued in five subsequent schools in Belgium. At later stages of the LEARN project, a data hub will be developed in collaboration with the partner ENVIROMETRICS to facilitate access to specific data for assessing the impact of indoor air quality on children’s cognition and well-being, as well as evaluating the effectiveness of our novel remediation strategies.