Associations between classroom CO2 concentrations and student attendance in Washington and Idaho

D. G. Shendell, R. Prill, W. J. Fisk, M. G. Apte, D. Blake, D. Faulkner

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

340 Scopus citations


Student attendance in American public schools is a critical factor in securing limited operational funding. Student and teacher attendance influence academic performance. Limited data exist on indoor air and environmental quality (IEQ) in schools, and how IEQ affects attendance, health, or performance. This study explored the association of student absence with measures of indoor minus outdoor carbon dioxide concentration (dCO2). Absence and dCO 2 data were collected from 409 traditional and 25 portable classrooms from 22 schools located in six school districts in the states of Washington and Idaho. Study classrooms had individual heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) systems, except two classrooms without mechanical ventilation. Classroom attributes, student attendance and school-level ethnicity, gender, and socioeconomic status (SES) were included in multivariate modeling. Forty-five percent of classrooms studied had short-term indoor CO 2 concentrations above 1000 p.p.m. A 1000 p.p.m. increase in dCO 2 was associated (P < 0.05) with a 0.5-0.9% decrease in annual average daily attendance (ADA), corresponding to a relative 10-20% increase in student absence. Annual ADA was 2% higher (P < 0.0001) in traditional than in portable classrooms.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)333-341
Number of pages9
JournalIndoor Air
Issue number5
StatePublished - Oct 2004
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Environmental Engineering
  • Building and Construction
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


  • Attendance
  • Carbon dioxide
  • Children
  • Schools
  • Ventilation


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