After reading the aforementioned article, I know enough not to suggest that every student needs an oxygen tank, but I do believe attention to air quality and breathing techniques should be given consideration in our schools.

My husband is a paramedic and we often have conversations that weave the worlds of medicine and academia together…after all, we are both serving the needs of others in ways that require compassion and self-sacrifice on a regular basis.

I was inspired to contemplate the value of air quality in schools for a few reasons:

1. A good friend of mine went to an alternative college that held most class outdoors because the belief was that fresh air helped students think more clearly,

2.  I encountered an oxygen bar during one of my night-life experiences many moons ago and it made me wonder ….did the oxygen give a high?…was it there to help people clear their heads in order to party-on or safely-head-home?

3. More than a decade of teaching has shown me that sometimes a tired, irritable, distracted kid can refocus in a matter of minutes after either a brisk walk, a step outside, or a drink of water, each of which has something to do with oxygenating their body.

4. My daughter had an anxiety attack a few months ago. There seemed to be no reason for the hyperventilating, shivers, and vomiting that came out of the blue. It was summer, so school wasn’t a source of stress. We had enjoyed a great day together with peace and calm in the family. Aside from the fact she spends summers every other week back and forth between me and her dad, which is stressful no matter how well-adjusted she is to the process, we were told by her pediatrician that it had to do with oxygen.  The doctor referred her to a psychologist, coached her on belly-breathing,  and advised her to practice the skill at home with Bubbles the fish on  It helped so much that after a few visits with the psychologist, we were advised to follow up “as needed”. Every now and then when she feels tense or nervous, I notice her putting her hand on her belly to check her breathing.  There have been no more anxiety attacks.

Just as hospitals pay attention to the air quality for their patients,  some school districts have established Indoor Air Quality management plans, based on guidelines from the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). This may help students function at their best, whether learning or testing. The Minnesota Department of Health seems to have set the standard but it is great to see that the North Carolina Office of Environmental Education and Public Affairs has taken up this issue as well. For NC schools and districts just beginning to implement IAQ management plans to those who have mature, sustainable, district-wide IAQ programs, EPA provides national-level awards. As the stature of the awards increases, so does the value gained by each recipient through improved IAQ and the resulting health and performance of faculty, staff and students. Applications for both the Great Start Award and the Leadership Award are accepted year-round. All Educationists can help the EPA.

And what if we explicitly taught all students the useful biofeedback skills that fosters?  If anyone knows of any research or dissertations whether medical or academic, I’d love to see the reference.


Really good article from JEMS discussing how Oxygen (o2) is often times overlooked as being a drug therapy, and simply treated like something to use because it’s there.

-Abdullah Nizamani Paramedic

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