Indoor Air Quality and the School Environment Ensuring our children’s health and academic success Provided by the American Association of School Administrators
Perspective “In the construction of buildings, whether for public purposes or as dwellings, care should be taken to provide good ventilation and plenty of sunlight….schoolrooms are often faulty in this respect. Neglect of proper ventilation is responsible for much of the drowsiness and dullness that….make the teacher’s work toilsome and ineffective.” -Health Reformer, 1871
What is Indoor Air Quality (IAQ)? • The temperature, humidity, ventilation, and chemical or biological contaminants of the air inside a building. - Webster’s Dictionary
Did you know… • Americans spend 90% of their day indoors – in classrooms, offices, and at home11; • 90% of schools in U.S. were built before 1980, and 50% before 19608; • 50% of schools nationwide report unsatisfactory environmental conditions8; • Students whose school facilities are in poor condition have test scores about 5.5 percentage points below students whose school facilities are in fair condition, and about 11 percentage points below students in excellent facilities.5
Why should we care about IAQ in our schools? • Nearly 55 million people (20% of US population) spend their days inside elementary and secondary schools8; • In 1999, one in five public schools had unsatisfactory IAQ levels1; • 58% of schools indicated that their district does not have an IAQ management plan6,
Asthma in Schools • Between 1980 and 1996, the prevalence of asthma increased 45 percent among children ages 5-146; • In 2002, 6.1 million children under the age of 18 were reported to currently have asthma6; • Asthma is the third leading cause of hospitalization in children under 15 years of age2; • Asthma is the leading cause of school absenteeism, accounting for 15 million missed days per year3.
The Link Between IAQ and Asthma • Asthma prevalence in schools has been associated with higher relative air humidity, higher concentrations of volatile organic compounds, and mold or bacteria7. • Many asthma triggers are found in and due to the school environment, including: • Dust mites found in carpeting, stuffed animals, and other cloth/fabric • Animal dander from classroom pets • Cockroaches • Mold
Challenges and Awareness • Asthma Triggers • Coats • Stuffed animals • Carpet • Space is densely populated • MORE??
Indoor Air Quality and Student Achievement • Poor IAQ can reduce a student’s ability to perform specific mental tasks requiring concentration, calculation, or memory6. • Students may appear sluggish or sleepy, or have headaches; • Indoor air quality is related to asthma and other aspects of health in schools6. • More missed school days • Tired from a lack of sleep
Many School Leaders Don’t… • Believe asthma is an epidemic. • CDC and EPA officials have called childhood asthma an epidemic.9 • Believe asthma and IAQ affect academic performance. • Asthma and poor IAQ do affect academic performance.5 • Consider the school environment a priority. • Students thrive academically in environments that support their health and well being.
School Facilities • 2004 report by the Maryland Task Force to Study Public School Facilities identified deficiencies in every jurisdiction of the State10 • The price tag to improve the nation's school facilities is estimated to cost somewhere between the $127 billion (according to the National Center for Education Statistics) and $268 billion (according to the National Education Association)4.
What is wrong? • Can you determine how the following photos compromise good indoor air quality?
Challenges and Awareness • Building cleanliness • Wall dust can be an asthma trigger
Challenges and Awareness • Vent is partially covered
Challenges and Awareness • Poor chemical management • Improper ventilation
Awareness • Idling near windows, doors, and students
What Are Our Options? • Reactive Response • Proactive Response
How to get started • Obtain EPA’s Tools for Schools Program Kit • Define IAQ team and appoint a leader • Conduct walkthrough of buildings • Create laundry list of items for repair • Create communications plan for internal and external stakeholders • Establish action plan for handling future IAQ-related events • Establish policies to minimize exposure to asthma triggers (i.e., no pets, no smoking)
AASA Resource to Help Us Begin • Copies of EPA’s Tools for Schools Kit – free to schools • Schoolhouse in the Red (2004 edition) • School Governance & Leadership (Spring 2003) • Frequently Asked Questions on AASA website • Scholarships to attend EPA IAQ Tools for Schools Annual Symposium • Powerful Practices: A Checklist for School Districts Addressing the Needs of Students with Asthma • Urban Resource Coalition • Rural Resource Coalition Website: www.aasa.org
EPA Resources to Help Us Begin • Tools for Schools • Design Tools for School • Indoor Air Quality Symposium (held each winter in Washington, DC) • H-SEAT • Mold Remediation online tutorials and publications Website: www.epa.gov/schools
Other IAQ Resources • National Clearinghouse for Educational Facilities – www.edfacilities.org • Council for Educational Facilities Planners – www.cefpi.org • Environmental Law Institute – www.eli.org • Allergy & Asthma Network, Mothers of Asthmatics http://www.aanma.org/
References 1About IAQ Design Tools for Schools, Introduction (June 20, 2006).U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. http://www.epa.gov/iaq/schooldesign/introduction.html. 2Asthma Facts and Figures (June 2006). Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America. http://www.aafa.org/display.cfm?id=8&sub=42. 3Asthma Prevalence, Health Care Use and Mortality, 2002. (2004). Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. 4Colgan, C. (June 2003). “What Schools Cost: The Dollars and Sense of Construction, Maintenance, and Energy,” American School Board Journal, 190, 6. http://www.asbj.com/specialreports/0603Special%20Reports/S1.html. 5Indoor Air Quality and Student Performance (March 2001, Revised 2003). U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. 6Moglia, D.; A Smith; DL MacIntosh; and JL Somers (January 2006). “Prevalence and Implementation of IAQ Programs in U.S. Schools” Environmental Health Perspectives 114, 1, 141-146. http://www.ehponline.org/members/2005/7881/7881.pdf. 7Schneider, M. (November 2002).Do School Facilities Affect Academic Outcomes? National Clearinghouse for Educational Facilities. 8School Facilities: The Condition of America’s Schools, Report to Congressional Requesters (February 1995). U.S. General Accounting Office. http://www.epa.gov/iaq/schools/pdf_files/he95061.pdf. 9Steps to a Healthier US Prevention Report (Winter 2004).U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion, 18, 2.http://odphp.osophs.dhhs.gov/pubs/prevrpt/04Volume18/Iss2Vol18.pdf. 10Task Force to Study Public School Facilities Final Report (February 2004). State of Maryland, Library and Information Services, Office of Policy Analysis, Department of Legislative Services. http://mlis.state.md.us/other/education/public_school_facilities_2003/Final_Report.pdf. 11The Inside Story: A Guide to Indoor Air Quality (April 1995). U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the United States Consumer Product Safety Commission, Office of Radiation and Indoor Air. http://www.epa.gov/iaq/pubs/insidest.html#Intro.