Tools for Schools

Lashon Blakely

 

Indoor air quality, in a broader interpretation, refers to environmental factors inside buildings that potentially impact human health, comfort, or work performance.  Environmental factors commonly found in school settings include mold, humidity, asthma triggers, volatile organic compounds, dust and other pollutants.  The concentration of indoor air pollutants, including acoustics and indoor lighting, are environmental factors as well.    

 

Since most people spend 90 percent of their time indoors, children especially are at risk of exposure to indoor air pollutants, they breathe in more air than adults.  Indoor air pollutants are not limited to indoor sources; outdoor sources influence indoor air pollutant concentrations as well.  Examples of these include vehicular exhaust, humidity, ozone, particulate matter (i.e. resulting from outdoor burning, industrial stacks, etc.) tobacco smoke and other sources.  In addition, schools have reported experiencing poor ventilation which is a precursor to increased buildup of other indoor air pollutants.  As a result, student and teacher performance reportedly decrease in buildings with similar symptoms.  While these facts may represent schools buildings in many counties, school administrators can adopt practices measures that lead to improved indoor environment.

 

To that end, the Environmental Protection Agency developed resource materials and the Indoor Air Quality Tools for School Kit to assist school administrators, facilities managers, teachers, and school nurses to adopt proactive measures that lead to healthier indoor air.  The practical guidelines offered in the Kit can be implemented using existing staff often at low or no cost to the school district.  Annually, schools experiencing similar indoor air concerns utilize the Kit to resolve common indoor air problems engaging school district stakeholders in a coordinated and consolidated approach.