Back to School Indoor Air Quality
Last Updated on August 21, 2021
For many parents preparing to send their kids off to start a new grade, the 2021 school year comes with mixed emotions. After a year in quarantine, a brief return to the “before-times” and the ever-growing threat of another lockdown, it’s safe to say both parents and children have been through a lot.
As Delta variant cases spike across the country, many parents are wondering how they’ll protect their school-age children from airborne threats. Air Oasis offers multiple high-quality air purifiers that remove viruses such as COVID-19 from the air, as well as other dangerous pollutants and toxins commonly found in school buildings.
Keep reading to learn about the standards for indoor air quality in schools, as well as ways to improve them.
Indoor Air Quality Standards for Schools
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) offers guidelines for schools in its Indoor Air Quality Tools for Schools Action Kit. The guidelines suggest that schools do the following to maintain good indoor air quality (IAQ):
- Provide quality HVAC. Properly functioning HVAC systems can improve ventilation, control odors and reduce pollutants that affect IAQ. EPA guidelines suggest that schools provide a minimum outdoor air ventilation consistent with the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE) standards.
- Maintain mold and moisture control. Mold exposure can have negative health consequences and result in serious sickness. The EPA suggests that schools conduct routine moisture inspections and maintain indoor humidity levels between 30% and 60%. Schools should also establish a mold prevention and remediation plan.
- Establish a pest management plan. The EPA encourages schools to make an integrated pest management plan that includes monitoring for pests, avoiding broad pesticide application and communicating transparently with occupants about pesticide usage.
- Effectively clean and maintain. Regular cleaning and maintenance can prevent buildup of allergens, irritants and bacteria that decrease IAQ. Steps can include using vacuums with high-efficiency filters, regularly dusting furniture, using mats to stop children from tracking in dirt and maintaining cleaning supplies and equipment in accordance with the manufacturer’s guidelines.
- Make smart materials selections. One of the most effective ways to improve IAQ is choosing materials and products that have less impact on human health and the environment than equivalent, competing products. Products that reduce the amount of toxins disposed of or consumed are ideal.
- Eliminate individual sources of pollution. Implementing proper chemical use, storage and disposal can greatly reduce chemical exposures and accidents. Identifying potential chemical pollutants such as radon is critical.
Why is Indoor Air Quality a Concern for Schools?
When most people think of air pollution, they think of ambient (outdoor) air pollution caused by smokestacks, wildfires and cars. They don’t realize that indoor levels of air pollutants can be two to five times higher, and occasionally even 100 times higher, than levels of outdoor pollutants.
A lot of indoor air pollution comes from sources that leak gas or particles into the air, such as certain building materials, appliances, air fresheners, as well as live sources like mold and cockroaches. Before buildings were built to be airtight, pollutants could escape, or outdoor air could enter and dilute them. Today’s energy efficient buildings effectively seal pollutants inside.
Maintaining IAQ in schools is arguably more important than in other public buildings for a variety of reasons, one of which is the fact that American children spend about 1,000 hours in school each year.
While short-term exposure to indoor pollutants can cause sickness, lethargy, allergy-like symptoms and trigger asthma attacks, long-term exposure can increase a student’s risk of developing heart disease, respiratory disease and cancer. What’s worse is that children are more susceptible to indoor air pollution because their bodies have difficulty processing toxins, and they breathe more, relative to their size, than adults do.
Ready to protect your child from indoor air pollution at school? Suggest the Air Oasis commercial-grade G3 Series UV Ionic Air Purifier. Using advanced ionization technologies, the G3 Series can reduce 99% of allergens, molds, germs and other contaminants.
Who Makes Guidelines for Indoor Air Quality in Schools?
The EPA creates comprehensive guidelines for maintaining IAQ in schools, and federal agencies such as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) provide guidance as well. However, federal agencies have no way of enforcing these guidelines on a state-by-state basis. Unfortunately, without a statewide school IAQ policy and an effective program by which to implement policy, IAQ will vary from school to school, widening environmental inequalities. If a school’s indoor air pollution is making your child sick, you will need to appeal to the school using state health laws, citing minimum school facility and inspection requirements.
4 Ways to Improve Indoor Air Quality in Schools
When your child is excited to go back to school, indoor air quality issues can quickly dampen that enthusiasm. Although legal recourse has the potential to be sweepingly effective, it takes time. If parents, teachers and schools decide they need to improve IAQ quickly, there are several fast, effective methods.
High-quality air purifiers are the most effective way to clean indoor air from a variety of pollutants, including volatile organic compounds (VOCs), particulate matter, smoke, allergens, viruses and bacteria. The commercial-grade iAdaptAir® HEPA UV Air Purifier leverages the power of the top five air purification technologies to provide clean, healthy air in any space.
Too much humidity in the air can encourage mold growth, and too little humidity in the air can exacerbate symptoms caused by poor indoor air quality. Using dehumidifiers and humidifiers, based on a classroom’s needs, can be an effective way to improve air quality.
One of the reasons IAQ gets so bad in modern buildings is that pollutants can’t escape, and outdoor air can’t seep in to dilute them. If a classroom or school is able to open windows or doors, or even run a fan that brings outdoor air into the building, they can drastically reduce the concentration of indoor pollutants.
Upgrading outdated HVAC systems to maximize ventilation, reduce air recirculation and allow for in-classroom thermostat controls can greatly improve IAQ. Replacing old air filters with new, more efficient ones can play a large role in preventing the recirculations of various pollutants.
Safeguarding Student Health: Air Oasis Air Purifiers for Schools
Whether you’re concerned about your child’s exposure to COVID-19, chemical toxins, mold and allergens, or another pollutant, one thing is certain: when it’s time to go back to school, indoor air quality is a huge concern.
Fortunately, you have many improvement options available to you, starting with Air Oasis air purifiers. Air Oasis offers the highest-quality air purifiers on the market, capable of purifying large and small spaces with stunning efficiency.