IAQ Tools for Schools
Actions to Improve IAQ
The key concepts of this promotional tool are:
- Why IAQ is Important to Schools
- What Actions Can You Take to Improve Your School's IAQ?
- Your Role on the Indoor Air Quality Team
A unique feature to this tool is that it provides information on IAQ Tools for Schools with four insert cards (provided here in PDF format) with guidance and action items for facility managers, teachers, staff and parents, administrators and school boards, and health professionals. Also provided are tips on community sponsorship of IAQ programs in schools.
The paper-copy of the brochure that you can order (ask for EPA 402-F-05-016) measures 9" x 11" when folded, but actually opens to a 24" x 20" size poster, illustrating key indoor air quality concepts that an IAQ coordinator can post on a door or bulletin board for reference.
"The most precious educational resource is the time that pupils spend in the classroom. IAQ Tools for Schools helps school officials create an environment that minimizes absenteeism and encourages alert, healthy students and teachers." Anne Miller, Executive Director, Association of School Business Officials International
"As parents of children with asthma, we work hard to prevent asthma attacks. But what about when they go to school? The school community can take an active role in improving IAQ by using the IAQ Tools for Schools (Action) Kit. It helps you to identify problem areas, develop low-cost strategies to resolve many IAQ issues, and prevent future problems." Gail Bost, AANMA Outreach Service Coordinator, Franklin, Tennessee.
Why IAQ is Important to Schools
"A demonstration project conducted in a Washington, DC public school suggests that when IAQ deteriorates because of poorly maintained HVAC systems, the cost of repair after a 22-year period can be five to 30 times higher than the cumulative cost of maintenance over the same period." - U.S. EPA Office of Radiation and Indoor Air.
Approximately 20 percent of the U.S. population, nearly 56 million people, spend their days in our elementary and secondary schools. According to a report published by the Department of Education in 1999, approximately 20 percent of the public schools reported that indoor air quality (IAQ) was unsatisfactory, while 25 percent reported that ventilation, which affects IAQ, was unsatisfactory. Students are at greater risk because of the hours spent in school facilities and because children are especially susceptible to pollutants.
The health and comfort of students and teachers are among the many factors that contribute to learning and productivity in the classroom, which in turn affect performance and achievement. EPA's IAQ Tools for Schools Action Kit will help ensure good indoor air quality in your school. Providing a healthy, comfortable environment is an investment in your students and staff.
Failure to respond promptly and effectively to poor indoor air quality in schools can lead to severe consequences. These may include an increase in short- and long-term health problems, costly repairs, potential liability problems, and greater risk that schools will need to close and temporarily relocate staff and students.
The IAQ Tools for Schools Action Kit is a one-stop resource for your school building's health!
What Actions Can You Take to Improve Your School's IAQ?
"I have seen first hand the rippling effect it has when a young person encourages participation and good habits concerning indoor air quality ... It may seem strange to see a young person sincerely pursue a technical, typically adult issue, but who better to get involved than the youth. We have creative potential; it only has to be inspired." John Marlow, Student, East Valley School District, Spokane, Washington
- Order EPA's IAQ Tools for Schools Action Kit today! This Action Kit provides guidance and tools to help resolve current IAQ problems, prevent future IAQ problems, and maintain good indoor air quality in your school.
- Use the IAQ Tools for Schools easy-to-follow Road Map, videos, fact sheet, backgrounder, checklists, sample memos and policies, recommended IAQ management plan, and unique IAQ problem-solving wheel. Working together to implement the IAQ actions in the Action Kit, you and your colleagues will help ensure a healthy, comfortable learning environment.
- Educate staff, students, and parents about the importance of good IAQ and their role in making the school environment as healthy as possible.
- Apply for an IAQ Tools for Schools Award to gain recognition for your achievements. Work with EPA to publicize your IAQ efforts via web links and promote awareness of IAQ.
- For new construction and renovation projects, use EPA's IAQ Design Tools for Schools web-based guidance that helps school districts, architects, and facility planners design and construct the next generation of high performance schools. For more information, see www.epa.gov/iaq/schooldesign
Your Role on the IAQ Action Team
"All schools should implement the IAQ Tools for Schools (Action) Kit. It's great to have so many people involved in the health and safety of the students." Jim Stefanik, Former Director of Maintenance, Chicopee County Schools, Chicopee, Massachusetts.
EPA's Indoor Environments Division has designed this new promotional brochure to advocate the use of IAQ Tools for Schools. The contents of this brochure will assist you in marketing the IAQ Tools for Schools Action Kit to K-12 schools and other interested stakeholders.
A unique feature to this tool is that it provides information on IAQ Tools for Schools with four insert cards (provided here in a downloadable PDF format) with guidance and action items for facility managers, teachers, staff and parents, administrators and school boards, and health professionals. Also provided are tips on community sponsorship of IAQ programs in schools.
- Health Professionals
- Teachers, Staff, and Parents
- Administrators and School Boards
- Facility Managers
"It is more satisfying to spend time preventing illness than treating illness. A big part of my job is educating people about health and wellness. The IAQ Tools for Schools Program provides a "lesson plan" to use as we strive to maintain a healthful environment for our students." Deresa Hampton, Nurse, Independence School District, Missouri
Indoor Air Quality and Health
The air quality inside your school affects the health and comfort of every student and staff member. EPA's Science Advisory Board consistently ranks indoor air pollution among the top five environmental risks to public health. Poor indoor air quality (IAQ) is about more than just comfort. It can cause or contribute to short- and long-term health problems, including asthma, respiratory tract infection and disease, allergic reactions, headaches, nasal congestion, eye and skin irritations, coughing, sneezing, fatigue, dizziness, and nausea.
As a school-based health professional — district health officer, nurse, hygienist, or dietician — you are responsible for the health and well-being of staff and students. School nurses, in particular, play a primary role in the early detection of an IAQ problem when observing children who are sick. Illness due to poor IAQ may not, however, produce easily recognizable symptoms. If multiple pollutants are involved, tracing the causes of the student's discomfort or illness will be your challenge.
Improving IAQ can reduce the number of student visits to the nurse's office, reduce absenteeism due to illness, and enhance the general health and well-being of all students and staff.
Ensure the Good Health of the Students in Your Care
You can help the students you care for by using EPA's one-stop resource for your school building's health — the IAQ Tools for Schools Action Kit. The Action Kit gives your school a practical plan for protecting and improving indoor air and explains your role on the IAQ Team. Your input can help the team identify the sources and types of indoor pollutants. Specifically, the Action Kit features forms, checklists, and a Problem Solving Wheel that helps nurses link health symptoms with possible IAQ problems.
The Action Kit also contains Managing Asthma in the School Environment, a guide with valuable information on how to identify and control common environmental factors in schools that trigger asthma attacks. It includes an "Asthma Action Card," which can serve as a daily asthma management plan. Indoor Air Pollution: An Introduction for Health Professionals is available here and provides an overview of acute conditions, patterns that point to particular pollutants, and suggestions for appropriate remedial action.
Teachers, Staff, and Parents
"Indoor air quality impacts the physical health of many students, as well as teachers and staff who assist them in learning. It also affects the ability of students to learn and adults to teach, so the journey to attain and maintain healthy indoor air quality is important." - Shelley Harding, Director of Student Achievement, East Valley School District, Spokane, Washington.
Poor Indoor Air Quality Interferes with the Learning Environment
Indoor air pollution is a problem in at least half of our nation's schools — in classrooms and other learning areas such as laboratories, libraries, and gymnasiums. Poor indoor air quality (IAQ) affects your students' health and comfort — and your own - in the following ways:
- Uncomfortable, unhealthy students can be distracted and inattentive. Their concentration and productivity suffer, which may affect their performance.
- Students with asthma or allergies are particularly sensitive to indoor air pollutants, resulting in increased or more severe reactions and episodes.
- Sickness and absenteeism rise. Absent students miss out on valuable learning experiences.
- Your energy levels and performance suffer because of sickness and absenteeism.
The good news is that indoor air pollution is preventable! You can help ensure that classrooms are healthy learning environments, and your students and their parents will be thankful for your effort.
Ensure a Healthy Classroom for Everyone
The U.S. EPA's IAQ Tools for Schools Action Kit gives your school common-sense guidance on IAQ issues. This practical Action Kit explains how to identify and prevent IAQ problems and how to resolve them if they occur. As a member of your school's IAQ Team, you are key to ensuring that your classroom is a healthy, comfortable learning space for your students and yourself.
The IAQ Tools for Schools Action Kit is a one-stop resource for your school building's health. The Action Kit includes a teacher's checklist covering IAQ basics related to classroom chalk dust and dry-erase markers, animals in the classroom, art and science supplies, cleaning supplies, ventilation, and classroom drains, fans, or fume hoods.
Other team members have their own checklists; together, you can evaluate potential IAQ problems and resolve them before they become health hazards. Because you're part of a team, this won't take much of your time. In the process, your students can learn about good IAQ. This is a great way to empower and educate your students while improving IAQ. An IAQ curriculum can cover topics ranging from environmental science to chemistry, statistics, math, and beyond. EPA's web site offers ideas for adding IAQ to your curriculum.
Act now to ensure comfort, health, and reduced sick days for your students. Help lower the risk of long-term health problems related to indoor air quality in your school.
Administrators and School Boards
"In our part of the country, everybody understands mold. Staying proactive on IAQ issues not only helps our students achieve, it also helps us avoid distractions, liability headaches, and public relations worries. By involving parents and the community in IAQ prevention, we have avoided confrontations over minor problems and stayed focused on the classroom." Don Kussmaul, retired Superintendent of East Dubuque Community Unit School District #119, Illinois
A Healthy Indoor Environment is Essential for Your School(s)
Your staff and students deserve a healthy indoor environment that is conducive to teaching and learning. However, indoor levels of air pollutants may be 2-5 times higher, and occasionally 100 times higher, than outdoor levels. Poor indoor air quality (IAQ) can cause headaches, fatigue, sinus congestion, coughing, and sneezing; it can promote the spread of airborne infectious diseases. Indoor pollutants can be particularly harmful to students with allergies or asthma. Asthma is the leading cause of school absenteeism due to chronic illness, accounting for 14.7 million missed school days each year.
Failure to address poor IAQ can...
- Result in an unfavorable learning environment for students, reduce the performance and effectiveness of teachers and staff, and increase absenteeism.
- Generate negative publicity that can damage the school's and administration's image and effectiveness.
- Strain relationships among parents, teachers, and the school administration.
- Create liability problems.
- Accelerate the deterioration and reduce the efficiency of the school's physical plant and equipment.
It costs less to correct or prevent potential IAQ problems than to fix them after they become more serious.
U.S. EPA's IAQ Tools for Schools Action Kit Provides Guidance
The IAQ Tools for Schools Action Kit provides common-sense guidance to help your school prevent and solve most IAQ problems with little cost and minimal effort from school staff. The highest levels of school administration must, however, be committed to indoor air quality and take the lead. This starts with identifying and empowering an IAQ Coordinator in each school or at the district level — often the facilities manager, principal, or vice principal — to organize your school's IAQ efforts.
Empower and be part of your school's IAQ Team. Draw on your contacts in the community to identify local business and community sponsors for your school's IAQ campaign. Communicate IAQ activities to the community.
"The surveys and checklists in the IAQ Tools for Schools (Action) Kit really helped me build a team. There are many other people who want to help with IAQ and it's great to be able to provide them with specific tasks to guide their efforts." Gregg Smith, P.E., Facilities Manager, Salt Lake City School District, Utah
Create a Healthy Indoor Environment
Facility managers in K-12 schools work hard every day to ensure a healthy, high-quality learning and teaching environment for students and staff. Your goal is to provide energy-efficient facilities that have quality lighting, comfortable temperatures, and good indoor air quality (IAQ) — all within a tight budget. The U.S. EPA's Indoor Environments Division provides technical guidance on how to maintain and operate your school facility by using integrated, whole-building approaches which are designed to protect occupant health while saving energy and money.
According to the U.S. Department of Education, the average school building is 42 years old. After 40 years a school building begins to rapidly deteriorate if it is not properly maintained. EPA's IAQ Tools for Schools Action Kit is designed to provide you with the tools and information needed to fix and prevent IAQ problems and maintain a healthy indoor environment with minimal effort and cost.
The IAQ Tools for Schools Action Kit helps your school develop a comprehensive IAQ management plan. With its checklists for teachers, administrators, facilities staff, health professionals, and other, the Action Kit provides step-by-step, practical guidance for sharing IAQ duties. Taking a proactive approach to preventing IAQ problems will save your school significant costs in the long run. With everyone working together, you may also be able to reduce the amount of time you currently spend on IAQ issues.
Poor IAQ can...
- Accelerate deterioration and reduce efficiency of the school's physical plant and equipment.
- Affect student comfort, the learning environment, and attendance.
- Increase the likelihood that schools will have to be closed temporarily (for repairs) or permanently.
- Lead to costly repairs if maintenance and proactive measures are deferred. Preventative measures will save money over time.
- Reduce the productivity of teachers and staff due to discomfort, sickness, or absenteeism.
- Increase the potential for long-term health problems among students and staff.
- Strain the relationship between administrators and facilities staff.
The IAQ Tools for Schools Action Kit should be an essential part of every Facility Manager's library, serving as a daily reference guide and management tool.
"We are pleased to see IAQ Tools for Schools being embraced by school systems around the country. It is an important part of our efforts to create and sustain asthma-friendly schools." Katherine Pruitt, Assistant Vice President, Program Services, American Lung Association.