The intra-uterine, perinatal and early childhood, during which the lungs develop and mature, are very vulnerable times. These are periods in which the lungs are susceptible to injury from air pollutants. Exposure during these periods reduces the maximum functional capacity that is achieved in adult life. Children with underlying chronic lung diseases, in particular asthma and cystic fibrosis, are particularly vulnerable.
Poor air quality can cause many health problems, including asthma and allergies, which increase absenteeism and reduce academic performance. Research links important environmental factors to health outcomes and student performance. Improvements in the quality of the school environment can improve academic performance, productivity and retention of teachers and staff.