Good IAQ can take on a variety of forms in a school. From a well-controlled climate in classrooms to the selection and use of non-toxic cleaning products, facility managers can take steps to ensure a safe and healthy working environment for staff and learning environment for students. The school facility manager is in the unique position of being able to see the “big picture” of the school’s environmental conditions.
Many factors interact to create an unhealthy indoor environment. The most important include indoor pollutants, outdoor pollutants near the building, pollution transport through the ventilation system, air cleaning or filtration, and indoor climate (temperature and relative humidity). Controlling pollutants, maintaining building systems, and establishing effective communication procedures can help create a healthy, safe, and high-performance educational environment.
Here are the top ten ways facility managers can impact indoor air quality:
- Implement a comprehensive, district-wide indoor air quality maintenance program consistent with the U.S. EPA’s IAQ TfS Program.
- Conduct regular building walkthrough inspections, and measure temperature, relative humidity, carbon monoxide, and carbon dioxide. Following the school walkthrough, identify and prioritize indoor air quality problems in the school.
- Ensure that all HVAC system air supply diffusers, return registers, and outside air intakes are clean and unobstructed. Regularly change filters and ensure condensate (or drip) pans are draining properly.
- In order to flush polluted air out of the school, bring adequate outdoor air into the building using the school ventilation system. Maintain minimum outdoor air ventilation rates consistent with the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE) standard 62.1, which for classrooms is about 15 cubic feet per minute (cfm) of outdoor air per person.
- Maintain indoor humidity levels between 30 percent and 60 percent to ensure comfort and reduce problems with mold and bacteria.
- Regularly clean and remove dust from hard surfaces with a damp cloth, and vacuum using high-efficiency filters.
- Follow the U.S. EPA’s guidelines for the prevention and remediation of mold.
- Promptly fix moisture problems, including those from roof, window, and plumbing leaks. Thoroughly dry wet areas within 24-48 hours to prevent mold growth.
- Employ integrated pest management (IPM) methods in your school instead of traditional pesticide-based methods.
- Use low volatile organic compound (VOC) paints, adhesives, and cleaning products that emit lower levels of gases into the air.
Excerpts from epa.gov.
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