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Back to School IAQ Checklist

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Published on Aug 7, 2014

According to the EPA, “Poor indoor air quality can impact the comfort and health of students and staff, which, in turn, can affect concentration, attendance, and student performance. In addition, if schools fail to respond promptly to poor IAQ, students and staff are at an increased risk of short-term health problems, such as fatigue and nausea, as well as long-term problems like asthma.”

Indoor air quality issues can be a concern in not only aging classrooms, but also some recently constructed schools. Some of the tell-tale signs that health complaints in a school may be indoor air quality related may include:
• Health complaints associated with particular times of the day or week.
• Other occupants in the same area experiencing similar problems.
• Health complaints that end when the students or faculty leave the building and recur when they return.
• The school has recently been renovated or refurnished.
• Students or faculty have recently begun working with new or different materials or equipment at school.
• New cleaning or pesticide products or practices have been introduced.
• Smoking is allowed near the school.
• New animals have been introduced into the classroom.

Indoor air quality and indoor environmental issues can be caused by a wide range of conditions and pollutants. These may include mold, bacteria, volatile organic compounds (VOCs), pesticides, pollen, dust mites, animal dander, latex, radon, carbon dioxide, carbon monoxide, asbestos, lead, high humidity levels, and temperature fluctuations to name just a few.

Schools that are undergoing or recently completed renovations or remodeling activities can face additional challenges due to the dust and debris that are created. These projects can easily aerosolize dusts that may contain potentially harmful materials such as lead or asbestos. In addition, chemical and biological substances can be spread throughout a school if proper procedures, containment and cleaning activities have not taken place. New construction and furnishings can also release high levels of VOCs.

These are just a few things to know about potential indoor air quality issues in schools and other buildings. To learn more about this or other environmental, health and safety issues, please visit the websites shown in the video.

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