IAQ Tools for Schools
Health and Achievement
This resource describes the main sources of indoor air pollution, health effects related to IAQ, corrective strategies and specific measures for reducing pollutant levels.
Building occupants often associate health symptoms they experience with poor environments, especially since most Americans spend 90 percent of their time indoors. However, determining if health symptoms relate to indoor air quality (IAQ) problems can be difficult. Acute, or short-term, symptoms of IAQ problems are typically similar to cold, allergy and flu symptoms. The symptoms below may be an indication of underlying IAQ issues; however, it is always advisable to consult a medical professional.
- Chest tightness or shortness of breath.
- Diagnosed infection or clusters of serious health problems.
- Eye, nose and throat problems (congestion, swelling, itching or irritation).
- Fatigue, drowsiness, dizziness or lethargy.
- Shortness of breath.
- Sinus congestion.
- Skin irritation.
How to Determine if You Have an IAQ Problem
Familiarize yourself with the typical sources of indoor air pollutants. Although it is not easy to link health symptoms to IAQ issues, the following clues may suggest that IAQ problems are the source:
- Symptoms are widespread within a classroom or area of the school.
- Symptoms disappear when students and staff leave the school building. Read the Sick Building Syndrome Fact Sheet (PDF) (4 pp., 37 K, about PDF).
- Onset of symptoms is sudden after a change made at the school, such as building renovation, pesticide application, painting, changes in cleaning practices, etc. Read the Renovation and Repairs Backgrounder (PDF) (3 pp., 495 K) | (DOC, 3 pp., 101 K) in the IAQ Tools for Schools Action Kit.
- People with allergies, asthma or chemical sensitivities have reactions indoors but not outdoors.