IAQ has the same impact on human health as does the outside environment. However, IAQ is typically two to five times more polluted, and in some dire cases 100+ times more polluted, than outdoor air.
Schools have the added imperative to keep indoor air quality as pristine and healthy as possible because children, whose bodies are more susceptible to pollution for a number of reasons, spend the majority of their days inside them. This article will touch on the important steps we can help your school to take in order to provide the healthiest indoor environment possible to optimize health and performance inside your hallowed halls.
IAQ can be compromised by any number of sources. This includes air duct venting, circulating outdoor air, asbestos, mold, radon and tobacco smoke, off gassing from building materials, dust, allergens and chemicals. By better understanding the common pollutants inside your school, you will be better able to make informed decisions that control those pollutants and improve IAQ.
According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), all schools should have an indoor air quality management plan. This is a written document that identifies sources of indoor air pollution and your institution’s comprehensive plan to mitigate them. The EPA’s Indoor Air Quality Tools for Schools program is a valuable resource with a deep reserve of resources tailored specifically for schools looking to improve IAQ. This free online resource includes actionable guidance with a coordinated management approach that provides for building occupant education and establishes routine inspection and maintenance policies.
As a school official, you interact with every member of your school community on a regular basis, including your building staff, administration, teachers, parents and students. You have the power to be a leader for improving the indoor air quality at your school, by sharing basic information about the impact of a healthy indoor environment with every stakeholder at your school. When you educate your community about the impact of certain decisions and how protecting the air we breathe benefits everyone, you are ensuring a healthier school for generations to follow. The EPA even provides a useful checklist for school officials who are interested in beginning a path toward an IAQ Management Plan. We have many resources available to guide you through this process, including the tools you will need to document and track your progress.
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